France: Mayor faces jail for gay wedding refusal

Thu, 13 Jun 2013

A French mayor is facing up to five years in prison and fine of up to £63,000 for declining to carry out a same-sex marriage.

Jean-Michel Colo, a mayor in South West France, rejected a wedding application from two men and says he stands by his decision.

But under French law, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation can be punishable by up to half a decade in prison and up to a €75,000 fine.

Sanction

He could also be removed from office, or face suspension over the move – which is being supported by his deputies.

Mayor Colo said while it is up to individuals what they do in the privacy of their own homes, “if you ask me as the mayor to support it, then I am very uncomfortable with it”.

Speaking to a French newspaper, the French Interior Minister said elected officials “who do not respect the laws of the republic will risk significant sanctions”.

Court

The same-sex couple, Guy Martineau-Espel and Jean-Michel Martin, plan to take the case to court.

And a homosexual lobby group also says it will file a complaint against the mayor and his deputies.

France redefined marriage in April, but at the time a poll showed around 15,000 mayors were opposed to the new law.

Unpopular

And another survey in April showed that French President François Hollande, who made the change an election pledge, was the most unpopular president since the 1950s.

The poll, from Ifop, showed 74 per cent of respondents were unhappy with him.

In January hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets of Paris to demonstrate against the legislation – which also includes same-sex adoption.

‘Ill-thought through’

Protestors held blue and pink posters and banners declaring “all born of a father and mother”.

In Britain the coalition Government is pushing ahead with same-sex marriage – despite widespread concern.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which has been described as “ill-thought through” and lacking in democratic legitimacy, is currently being considered by the House of Lords.