France's mayors in revolt against gay marriage
The prospect of France legalising gay marriage continues to upset some of the country’s more right wing or religious officials. Several mayors say they will refuse to marry gay couples with one claiming it will open the door to incestuous unions.
The issue of gay marriage continues to be a hot potato in France with some elected mayors declaring they will refuse to carry out ceremonies between same-sex couples if, as expected, they become legal.
France’s Socialist government are due to present a bill to parliament in 2013 which would legalise same sex marriage and grant adoption rights to gay couples.
But the prospect of two men or two women tying the knot continues to disturb some of France’s more right wing or religious politicians.
The latest to speak out against the proposed law was Xavier Lemoine, mayor of the Paris suburb of Montefermeil and a member of a Christian Democratic party.
In an interview with French daily Le Monde on Saturday, Lemoine said he would not conduct marriages between same sex couples in his Town Hall.
“If the law over same sex marriage is passed I hope that it will include a clause allowing elected officials the right not to celebrate these ceremonies if it is against their conscience,” Lemoine said.
'Marriage will lead to incest and polygamy'
Lemoine laid out his position only days after another Paris mayor, Francois Lebel, a member of the centre-right UMP party, took a similar stance. But Label went further, stirring up a hornets’ nest by declaring that same sex marriage could open the door to the approval of polygamous or incestuous unions.
Lebel, writing in a municipal newspaper this week, said lifting the taboo on same-sex marriage would set a dangerous precedent.
"Why then would the legal age for marriage be maintained? And why forbid marriage between close relations, paedophilia or incest which are all still common currency in the world."
Lebel, the mayor of the capital's 8th district – and the man who performed the marriage ceremony for former President Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-supermodel Carla Bruni - has been widely condemned for his comments. Lebel was not only denounced by Socialists, but also by leaders of his own party, the UMP.
However, former prime minister Francois Fillon warned that Hollande's administration needed to tread carefully on the issue.
"They would do well to think twice before opening this debate now," Fillon said. "We are going to see the French people very deeply split over this issue."
Fillon may be right, as there are growing signs of some discontent over the gay rights adoption issue which could yet make life uncomfortable for the ruling Socialists as it seeks to enact the promised legislation.
Polls suggest up to two thirds of French voters back the right of homosexuals to marry but they are evenly split on whether gays should be able to adopt. Surveys also indicate that the issue is very important for those who are opposed to both reforms.
A group of mayors on the island of Corsica have announced they will refuse to carry out gay marriages and local councillors in the Paris suburb of Le Chesnay this week passed a motion calling for a referendum, an idea that seems to be gathering momentum.
(FRANCE24 with wires)