France: Illegal gay wedding defies same-sex marriage law


The happy couple, Guillaume (C) and Patrick (R), shake hands with Mayor Jean Vila (L).


Raymond Roig

Two men held an illegal gay wedding service in south-west France Saturday, in a challenge to French laws on same-sex marriage.

The couple, Patrick and Guillaume, were married in Cabestany by the town's Communist mayor, Jean Vila, reported Agence France Presse.

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The ceremony was purely symbolic, however, since French law does not recognize same-sex marriage.

France's only other attempted gay marriage, in 2004, was subsequently annulled by the courts. Saturday's union was not entered in the official registry in a bid to avoid the same fate, Reuters said.

Vila said the ceremony was an act of protest:

"To outlaw homosexual marriage is to deny the reality of thousands of homosexual couples.

"This decision to join these two people for me is an act of anger and revolt in the face of the authorities' refusal to legitimise such unions."

The mayor's defiance drew a swift rebuke from France's Minister for Families, Claude Greff, who dismissed it as a pre-election "provocation" ahead of the 2012 presidential poll.

The Christian Democrat party's presidential candidate, Christine Boutin, said that such defiance of the institution of marriage "endangers an essential pillar of our society," magazine Le Nouvel Observateur reported.

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France allows gay couples to enter into civil unions, known as Pacs, explains Radio France International, but defines marriage as "the union of a man and a woman."

An attempt by the opposition Socialist party to expand this definition to include same-sex couples was defeated in a parliamentary vote earlier this year.