Court annuls marriage of French homosexuals

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The Independent Online

France's most celebrated, and controversial, newly-weds - both men - were told by a court yesterday that they were not married after all.

France's most celebrated, and controversial, newly-weds - both men - were told by a court yesterday that they were not married after all.

Their lawyers said they would appeal, all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if necessary. Meanwhile, they would consider themselves legally married.

A court in Bordeaux formally annulled the wedding on 5 June of Stéphane Chapin, 33, a home-help, and Bertrand Charpentier, 31, a warehouseman.

The couple were married, amid great media ballyhoo and political controversy, by one of the leaders of the French Green Party, Noel Mamère, who is also Mayor of the small town of Bègles, near Bordeaux.

The centre-right French government suspended M. Mamère for one month from his mayoral functions and brought the formal case for annulment of the marriage, which was heard on 29 June and judged yesterday.

The court in Bordeaux accepted the government's argument that the French civil code - the basis of most French law - does not permit marriage between partners of the same sex. Lawyers for the couple argued that there was nothing in the code which specifically outlawed same-sex weddings. This argument was thrown out by the court.

M. Mamère, a former television presenter, was the Green candidate at the last presidential election in 2002.

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