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Gay marriage

January 28, 2011

The Constitutional Court in France has rejected a lesbian couple's bid to overturn the French ban on same-sex marriage. Judges ruled that marriage was legal only between a man and a woman.

Corinne Cestino and Sophie Hasslauer talk to the press in France
Cestino and Hasslauer sought to break new ground in FranceImage: dapd

A French female teacher and pediatrician - who have lived together for 15 years and have four children - were turned down by the French Constitutional Court on Friday in their bid to overturn the country's ban on same-sex marriage.

Judges found that the law defining marriage as valid only between a male and female was acceptable under the French constitution.

The court rejected the couple's argument that the two articles in the French civil code defining marriage were unconstitutional and discriminatory against homosexuals.

However, the judges added that it was up to parliament to decide if the ban should be overturned - and not the constitutional authority.

Gay rights activists in France slammed Friday's decision as a missed chance for change in the French constitution.

The rainbow flag at a parade
France's high court passed the buck to the parliamentImage: AP

"The court has missed an historic opportunity to put an end to discrimination that has become intolerable for more than three million gay and lesbians in France," said Caroline Mecary, a lawyer for gay rights groups.

Disappointment for couple

Though the couple - Corinne Cestino and Sophie Hasslauer - currently enjoys tax benefits and other financial advantages because they are in the legally recognized civil partnership, they feel they should be entitled to further benefits that marriage would bring.

"Marriage is the only solution in terms of protecting our children, sharing parental authority, settling inheritance problems and eventual custody if one of us were to die," they told journalists before the ruling.

At present, marriage between homosexual partners has been authorized in 10 countries, the majority of which belong to the European Union.

Other countries have adopted legislation on civil partnerships instead, including France, Germany, Britain, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Great Britain.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (Reuters, AP)
Editor: Mark Hallam