• France's news in English
 

Gay couple sue mayor over wedding refusal

AFP/The Local · 26 Jun 2013, 12:08

Published: 26 Jun 2013 12:08 GMT+02:00

Jean-Michel Colo, the mayor of Arcangues, stirred up controversy by becoming the first French official to formally refuse to officiate at the wedding of gay partners, Jean-Michel Martin and Guy Martineau-Espel, and has made several combative statements.

Isabelle Duguet, the couple's lawyer, said she had filed a case against Colo for discrimination and refusal to carry out his official duties. The 60-year-old has been mayor of Arcangues for three decades.

Duguet said Colo could face a five-year jail term and a €75,000 fine.

"For me, marriage is for a woman and man to have children. I am not discriminating, as a same-sex couple is sterile. It's a parody of equality, it's a big lie," Colo had said earlier, defending his stand.

"I will go to the gallows" rather than back down, Colo said.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls has warned Colo of "significant sanctions", telling reporters that any public servants refusing to respect the letter of the law would be guilty of discrimination and thus risk up to three years in prison, as well as paying €45,000 in damages.

The frustrated Martin had told AFP that the couple had even tried to tell Colo that the nuptials would not be played out in the media but he had failed to persuade him to marry them.

"Our initial aim was to create the least waves possible, without any publicity or media presence," Martin said.

"To respect his beliefs, we even told him that we were ready to get married not in the town hall but in our home in the presence of a magistrate but he refused this too."

"It is now time to turn to the law," said Martineau-Espel. "We had been ready to make concessions earlier, now we want the marriage to be held at the town hall."

Colo is far from the only French mayor to have refused to officiate at the wedding of a gay couple. 

On Wednesday Jean-Yves Clouet, the mayor of the small town of Mesanger in northwestern France, has also voiced his defiance, saying: "I have my convictions and I will not carry out these kind of marriages, that's for sure."

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

Binaud qualified his refusal, however, by saying that he "would consider marrying two girls.”

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

In April, France became the 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage after President Francois Hollande, who had made the issue a major electoral plank, signed the measure into law following months of bitter political debate.

The first gay marriage in France was held on May 29th.

AFP/The Local (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Paris vows it is ready to clean up its streets
The Canal Saint Martin area of Paris that has been plagued by litter problems. Photo: AFP

Paris vows it is ready to clean up its streets

4 hours ago

City chiefs are set to introduce harsher penalties for littering in Paris in an attempt to clean up the capital’s reputation as a filthy city.

Why do so many French women have epidurals?
So why exactly are epidurals so popular in France? Photo: AFP

Why do so many French women have epidurals?

4 hours ago

Almost 80 percent of French women will have an epidural during childbirth, new statistics show, ranking them among the most dependent on the pain killers in the world. But why?

Are the French ready to ditch the 35-hour week?
Is it time France reconsidered the 35-hour working week? Photo: AFP

Are the French ready to ditch the 35-hour week?

6 hours ago

Seven in ten French people say that they'd be happy to give up their sacred 35-hour working week - but on one condition, a new survey has revealed.

Air France threatens to cut flights and workers
Photo: CpaKmoi/Flickr

Air France threatens to cut flights and workers

7 hours ago

Air France's management ratcheted up pressure on workers to agree to a new restructuring plan, saying Friday the alternative is flight cuts and possible forced layoffs, union sources said.

Ashamed Brits mobilize to help refugees in Calais
A refugee in the New Jungle camp in Calais clutches a sleeping bag and a message from those who donated it. Photo: AFP

Ashamed Brits mobilize to help refugees in Calais

9 hours ago

Apparently shamed by the inaction of David Cameron’s government, British citizens have taken up the fight and are sending money and supplies across the Channel destined for refugees living in squalid conditions in Calais.

Riviera cities among 'world's least friendly'
Cannes - one of the unfriendliest cities on the planet. Photo: Chris Yunker/Flickr

Riviera cities among 'world's least friendly'

9 hours ago

A new survey has revealed that three French cities on the south coast are among the world's least friendly. But is it the tourists or the locals who are to blame?

Refugee crisis
'Airbnb for refugees' comes to Paris
A man in Paris looks for a place to sleep after being evicted from a camp in central Paris. Photo: AFP

'Airbnb for refugees' comes to Paris

11 hours ago

A pro-refugee organization in Paris has launched a new project that will allow French locals to open up their homes to refugees. And Parisians appear to be taking to it.

Here Ouigo again: SNCF expands low-cost service
SNCF is to expand its low-cost Ouigo TGV service. Photo: AFP

Here Ouigo again: SNCF expands low-cost service

12 hours ago

France’s train operator had some good news for travellers this week when it announced its low-cost TGV service Ouigo, that offers tickets from €10, would be expanding to cover more destinations.

Flagship French nuclear reactor hits another snag
The new nuclear reactor at Flamanville which has been plagued by setbacks and delays. Photo: AFP

Flagship French nuclear reactor hits another snag

13 hours ago

France's world renowned prowess in the nuclear power industry has taken another blow after officials announced this week, yet another delay to the launch of its next generation reactor, that is fast becoming a costly calamity.

Gérard Depardieu: 'I want to sell up in France'
The French actor still has property in France. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

Gérard Depardieu: 'I want to sell up in France'

1 day ago

French actor and tax exile Gérard Depardieu has declared that he will "sell everything" in his home country, French media has reported.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

National
Why has France abandoned its tradition of sheltering refugees?
Thousands of furious French farmers roll in to Paris on tractors
National
Winter is coming as Paris hosts Game of Thrones exhibition
Came for love, fear for job, but adore way of life - Are you a typical expat?
Would a new Calais migrant camp be a step back to the days of Sangatte?
Opinion
French education is in 'crisis' - Here are ten ways to fix it
French minister says 35-hour week not working in France
IN PICS: Police evict 300 people from France's oldest shanty town
Features
Take a look at some of the wackiest bars you can find in Paris
National
Feminist stunt sees French road signs changed for the day
Travel
Could coaches overtake trains when it comes to travelling in France?
Meet the five heroes who foiled the French train attack
National
France set for 'tourism record' of 85 million visitors in 2015
National
Paris students are helping police to warn Asian visitors about crime
Naked couple found dead beside French fortress
Europe's biggest science museum burns in Paris
Robber found half-naked and asleep in French beauty salon
National
Here are eight tips for blending in with the French while at the beach
Humans of Paris: We meet the man changing our perception of Parisians
National
France reveals new plans for Sunday and late-night shopping
Read about this revolutionary kidney op in a Toulouse hospital
National
Panic after four dogs 'poisoned' after walks in Paris park
France hit by huge summer spike in abandoned pets
National
France boils in second hottest summer ever
Technology
Meet Max - the first person in France to receive a 3D-printed hand
Politics
French minister admits to 'Obama engagement' tweeting mishap
Features
From giant bubbles to treehouses - here are the craziest hotels in France
National
How would you like to spend a night in the Palace of Versailles?
French manager paid to do nothing for 12 years
Features
We talk to Calais residents about their migrant crisis
National
Cow spared after fleeing from abattoir in France
FIVE reasons why everyone should visit Calais... yes Calais
Travel
France for adrenaline junkies: Ten crazy things to do
VIDEO: Slingshot elastic breaks on ride at French theme park
This plant might spell the end of the Asian hornet invasion
Who says the French don't like speaking English
National
It may be trickier to find a baguette in Paris this August
Killers of French student were 'inspired by Breaking Bad'
Ten must-see French gems you probably never thought of visiting
Is it time for France to force Britain to move border back across Channel?
Is romance in France just a "heterosexual concept"?
Can YOU pronounce these ten French town names?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se