French mayors face prison if they refuse to perform gay marriages under tough new laws

  • Mayors could be jailed if they refuse to perform ceremonies
  • Officials banned from objecting because of religious or moral obligations
  • First gay wedding in France took place in Montpellier in May

By Peter Allen In Paris

|

France's highest court has confirmed that mayors will face prison if they refuse to perform same-sex marriages because of religious or moral objections.

In a ruling which will be studied intently across Europe, the French Constitutional Council rejected an appeal by officials who do not want to take part in gay weddings.

Roman Catholics and Muslims are among the thousands in France who have expressed their opposition to a new bill introduced this year allowing homosexual marriage.

Marriage row: French mayors will face jail if they refuse to perform gay marriages, such as that of Vincent Aubin and Bruno Boileau who were the first same-sex couple to marry in France

Marriage row: French mayors will face jail if they refuse to perform gay marriages, such as that of Vincent Aubin and Bruno Boileau who were the first same-sex couple to marry in France

Starting out: Since Vincent Aubin and Bruno Boileau were married in May there has been a host of other couples applying to follow suite - to the anger of some French officials

Starting out: Since Vincent Aubin and Bruno Boileau were married in May there has been a host of other couples applying to follow suite - to the anger of some French officials

The first gay wedding in France took place in May in the southern city of Montpellier, when Vincent Aubin and Bruno Boileau were married in front of cheering family and friends.

Since then there have been hundreds of applications for similar ceremonies.

As officers of state, French mayors have to officiate the wedding ceremonies, and in June a new law was passed confirming that they cannot raise religious or moral objections to doing so.

 

Today’s ruling reads: ‘This legislation did not violate their freedom of conscience, and the disputed sections conform with the Constitution’.

It is a huge blow to France's anti-gay marriage movement, which blames liberals within France’s Socialist government for forcing the original gay marriage bill through.

Controversy: Although President Francois Hollande has a long-term partner, Valerie Trierweiler, he has never married, prompting criticism that he has undermined the traditional French family

Controversy: Although President Francois Hollande has a long-term partner, Valerie Trierweiler, he has never married, prompting criticism that he has undermined the traditional French family

President Francois Hollande has never been married, and many think he and his left-wing ministers have undermined the traditional French family.

Jean-Michel Colo, the Mayor of Arcangues, in south-west France, is among the many officials who have refused to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony.

The outcry has led to Manuel Valls, the country's Interior Minister, threatening ‘significant sanctions’ including up to three years in prison and fines equivalent to around 40,000 pounds.

Claude Binaud, the Mayor of Matha, also in the south west, said he did not find gay marriage ‘normal’. 

He added: ‘We’re touching on something central to society here – the family.

‘Two girls, I might have said yes, if my back was against the wall. But that’s totally different, they can have children.’

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

We all have rights, some, a lot more than others. Sounds like a nice case of dictatorship.

37
221
Click to rate

If gays wanted to get married, that is fine but forcing people to conduct the ceremony through threat of prison?? Just get someone else to do it

44
260
Click to rate

This is absolutely awful. Prison?! What is our world coming to?

49
241
Click to rate

Holy creeping totalitarianism batman =0 the French are throwing people into jail for harbouring views not approved of by the state! Yes Robin it is a sad state of affairs when peoples individual sense of morality is criminalised, if these Liberals gain more power it will indeed be a sad day for freedom. Come on.. to the Democromobile.... we must do something now!

36
191
Click to rate

France is an avowedly secular state, so representatives of that secular state cannot expect to be allowed to object to the dictates of the state on religious grounds. This story outlines a sort of cultural schizophrenia in France, wherein those working for the machinery of state want to have their cakes and eat it: Many in France want to be considered "modern" and secular, while at the same time rejecting a wholly secular and civil ceremony. I think that France and in fact much of Europe is on the cusp of a cultural identity crisis as the European parliament rolls out gay marriage across the rest of the union. There is trouble ahead I think.

21
149
Click to rate

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now