Lesbian parents face court for naming son Amber
Prosecutors in France are looking to stop a lesbian couple from calling their son Ambre, the French equivalent of the name Amber, arguing that the name is feminine.
The boy was born in January, but the registrar objected to the parents’ choice on the grounds that the name risked “confusing the child in a way that could be harmful,” French media France Bleu reported.
The couple, who lives in the town of Étel in Brittany, northwest France, already appeared in front of a judge in a family court, who decided—after about six months, the women say—that there was no reason to bar the parents from making the desired name choice.
But the prosecutors appealed in July, forcing the couple to return to court in a few months’ time and continue the process for at least another year—the retrial is set for April 2019, The Local reported.
One of the parents, photographer Alice Gondelle, told PinkNews she and her wife cannot understand the authorities’ opposition to their choice, and they would never have expected to be sued over this issue.
“My wife and I fell in love with the name Amber. We found it sweet and elegant. We did some research and found it was used by both genders, which comforted us in our choice,” Gondelle said, adding that the choice was made in “good faith.”
Gondelle, wrote an appeal on behalf of her son, which she shared on social media. “My name is Ambre, I am eight months old and I am a boy,” the statement began.
“My name is mostly used by girls, but actually at the beginning of the century it was essentially a male name!”
“To help me finally make this pretty name official, I launch an appeal: There are 37 males [named] Ambre in France. Can you please make yourselves known, so I can finally have an identity. I will be sincerely grateful,” the appeal continued.
It concluded with a quote: “Do not let someone else’s opinion define our reality.”
The appeal was shared nearly 8,000 times on Facebook since Gondelle first published it on September 6. Dozens of people expressed support for the couple in the more than 300 comments below the post.
The more “masculine” version of the name is French would be Ambroise, but the couple believe Amber is perfectly gender-neutral in its own right.
“Society is very unfair, it lets ridiculous first names pass,” Gondelle told France Bleu, adding that Amber is a classic name “recognised as being for both genders.”
Gondelle told PinkNews that they aren’t fully confident they can win the appeal—what they’d like, after already having gone through six months of an expensive legal process, is to live in peace.
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“We have the right, like any parent who names their a child—for our son to gave a name chosen with love and be able to live serenely,” she said.
The case is the latest concerning France’s strict naming tradition—until 1993, parents could only choose names included in a list of suggestions compiled by the authorities.
Even without the list, courts can intervene if they think the parents’ decision may be detrimental for the child’s wellbeing. Names like “Nutella” and “Fraise”—meaning “strawberry” have previously been banned, but another recent case was specifically considering the gender aspect of a name.
The case, originating from the same area as the lesbian couple’s, concerned a baby girl whose parents wanted to name “Liam” but that, prosecutors argued, should be given a more “feminine” name.
This story was updated with quotes from Alice Gondelle received after publication.