France officially recognises 1st gay family
September 23, 2004
PARIS — France has for the first time extended official recognition to a
family headed by a homosexual couple, giving legal rights to two
lesbians raising three daughters one of them bore through
artificial insemination, Le Monde newspaper reported.
The authorisation, given by a Paris judge on July 2, sets a
precedent in a country which is still grappling with a marriage of
two gay men in June that the government has declared annulled.
According to Thursday's edition of Le Monde, the lesbian couple,
identified only as Carla and Marie-Laure, and their three children,
aged 5, 7 and 10, received permission to establish "a legal link
between each of the parents and the children as well as joint
exercise of parental authority".
Their lawyer, Caroline Mecary, told AFP that the decision –
delivered after four years of legal efforts – now allows the
couple to carry out their family duties like any other heterosexual
couple in France.
She noted however that the move was considered "exceptional" and
was only achieved after a long procedure that involved Carla
winning adoption rights over the children born to Maire-Laure, then
converting that to shared custody.
Carla, a 46-year-old photographer, and Marie-Laure, a
45-year-old graphic artist, decided to go ahead with founding a
family after living together for 15 years.
"Really, everything went very well and the relationship formed
naturally with the children," Carla told Le Monde, adding that "we
had a little party" when the news came through of the judge's
With no appeal forthcoming from state prosecutors within the
statutory period, the verdict took legal effect in mid-August.
The couple's legal victory was likely to encourage other
homosexual couples to follow suit, though Le Monde stressed that
only Paris and one other region in France, the Herault, allow
adoption by openly gay single people.
Single women are also barred from receiving artificial
insemination in France, although the procedure is open to them in
other European countries. The option of surrogate mothers for men
remains largely a situation found in North America.
The issue of gay unions and civil rights in France took on a new
dimension on June 5 this year when two gay men, shopkeeper Bertrand
Charpentier, 31, and male nurse Stephane Chapin, 33, became the
country's first married couple.
The government declared the marriage void on July 27, but the
two have mounted an appeal they have vowed to take to the European
Court of Human Rights if necessary.
Since 1999, France has offered a civil contract known as PACS to
all couples, including same-sex ones, but it stops short of
offering the same legal rights as marriage, notably in the areas
dealing with taxes, inheritance and children.
Although homosexual partnerships are recognised to varying
degrees in several other European countries, Belgium and the
Netherlands are the only two EU members so far that recognise
same-sex marriages. – Sapa-AFP
Court nullifies France's first gay marriage [28/07/2004]