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Top court upholds ban on same-sex marriage

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-01-28

France's constitutional council upheld the country's ban on homosexual marriage on Friday, denying a lesbian couple with four children the right to wed.

REUTERS - France’s ban on same-sex marriages was upheld by the country’s constitutional authority on Friday, in a ruling that relieves the government of any obligation to grant gays the wedding rights enjoyed by heterosexuals.

A handful of countries in Europe allow couples of the same sex to wed and rights campaigners had hoped for a breakthrough in France, where two women living together had demanded the view of the Constitutional Council.

The Constitutional Council said it found no conflict between the law as it stands and fundamental rights enshrined by the constitution.

It was up to parliament to decide whether the law should change, rather than constitutional authorities, said the ruling.

The two women live with four children, three of them conceived via artificial insemination.

An opinion poll published as the verdict emerged on Friday suggested views had changed radically in the past five years and that a majority of French people now accept the idea of same-sex marriage.

The results of the survey by TNS Sofres showed 51 percent of respondents in favour of gay marriage and 35 percent against. In 2006, the agency reported 51 percent opposition and 45 percent support.

France has allowed civil unions between people of the same sex since 1999 but that accords fewer rights than marriage proper.

Two men married briefly in 2004 but the oath was annulled by a court and the mayor of the town who had presided over the wedding was suspended, in a case that fuelled wider debate.

Same-sex marriage is permitted in Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Spain, according to the Council of Europe.

It is also permitted in South Africa, Argentina, Canada and in some U.S. states.

Date created : 2011-01-28


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