France: Gay couple sue mayor who refused to officiate at their wedding
A French gay couple have mayor to court who said he would rather “go to the gallows”, than marry a same-sex couple, under the newly introduced French equal marriage law.
A lawyer for Jean-Michel Martin and Guy Martineau-Espel lodged the complaint against mayor Jean-Michel Colo, the mayor of Arcangues, near Bayonne, who said no same-sex weddings would take place in the village.
Colo, 60, the first French mayor to refuse to perform a same-sex wedding, said he would rather be hanged than officiate at a gay couple’s wedding. He said that because gay couples are “sterile”, equal marriage is a “parody” of equality, and that it is a “big lie”.
The couple of 16 years, who own a property in the village, had hoped to wed in August. They had attempted to come to a compromise, and hadn’t wanted to take their case public, but even on offering to have their ceremony outside of the regular marriage hall, Colo refused.
If found guilty of discrimination, and refusing to carry out his official duties, the mayor could face five years in prison, and a 75,000 euro (£64,000) fine.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls, had already warned Colo of “significant sanctions”, saying that any public servants failing to respect the law would be guilty of discrimination.
Following months of sometimes violent protests, and a substantial rise in homophobic attacks, French President Hollande signed the law making France the fourteenth country in the world to allow equal marriage, last month.
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