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French mayor 'might marry girls, but not boys'

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Two women kiss in front of a wedding shop in Paris. A mayor in south-western France has caused a stir by refusing to marry two men, but saying he 'might marry two girls.' Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP
14:06 CEST+02:00
A mayor in south-western France has stoked controversy by refusing to marry two gay men, while declaring he “might marry two girls.” It's the latest development in a row brewing in France since the legalization of gay marriage in May.

Claude Binaud, six-time mayor of Matha, a town in the Charente-Maritime region of south-western France, has caused a stir by refusing to marry a local man, Bernard Rouhaud, and his partner, it was reported on Friday.

He qualified his refusal, however, by saying that he “might marry two girls.”

Binaud, 77, has been a consistent opponent of gay marriage, which became legal in France in May after months of fraught national debate and even violent clashes.

“There’s no doubt, I will not marry them, not two boys,” he told regional daily Sud-Ouest.

“I don’t find it [gay marriage] normal. We’re touching on something central to society here – the family,” he said.

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

CLICK HERE: FOR A GALLERY OF THE MOST PROVOCATIVE STATEMENTS IN FRANCE’S GAY MARRIAGE DEBATE

Binaud has assured the couple that their wedding, planned for August 3rd, will take place in Matha, but that a town councillor, rather than he himself, will be the one to officiate at it.

Binaud may find, however, that his proposed compromise solution will not pass muster with national authorities.

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Earlier this week, France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls warned mayors throughout the country that anyone refusing to marry gay couples would be in violation of the law.

As a result, they could face “significant sanctions,” up to and including a three-year prison sentence and €45,000 fine, Valls said.

He was reacting to the news that Jean-Michel Colo, mayor of Arcangues in the Pays-Basques region of south-western France had become the first French official to formally refuse to officiate at the wedding of a gay couple.

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