Same-sex marriage in France

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Same-sex marriage in France has been legal since 18 May 2013.[1] It became the thirteenth country worldwide to allow same-sex couples to marry. The legislation applies to metropolitan France as well as to all French overseas departments and territories.[2]

A bill granting same-sex couples the right to marry and jointly adopt children was introduced to the National Assembly by the Socialist Government of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on 7 November 2012, with the support of President François Hollande, who declared his intent to support the legislation during his campaign for the presidency. On 12 February 2013, the National Assembly approved the bill in a 329–229 vote. On 12 April 2013, the Senate approved the bill with amendments in a 171–165 vote, followed by the approval of the amended bill by the National Assembly on 23 April 2013 in a 331–225 vote. However, a challenge to the law by the conservative UMP party was filed with the Constitutional Council following the vote.[3][4] On 17 May 2013, the Council ruled that the law was constitutional.[5][6] That same day, President Hollande promulgated the bill,[7] which was officially published the next day in the Journal Officiel.[2] The first official same-sex marriage ceremony took place on 29 May 2013 in the city of Montpellier.[8]

History[edit]

Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe¹
  Marriage
  Civil union
  Limited domestic recognition (cohabitation)
  Limited foreign recognition (residency rights)
  Unrecognized
  Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples
¹ May include recent laws or court decisions that have not yet entered into effect.

Despite the creation and implementation in 1999 of the civil solidarity pact (French: pacte civil de solidarité),[a] more commonly known as PACS, a system allowing civil partnerships between two persons without regard to their gender and guaranteeing certain personal and civil rights to both "pacsés", there was considerable political and societal debate over same-sex marriage in France during the first decade of the 21st century.

Mamère and same-sex marriage[edit]

On 5 June 2004, former Green Party presidential candidate Noël Mamère, Mayor of the Bordeaux suburb of Bègles, conducted a same-sex marriage ceremony for two men, Bertrand Charpentier and Stéphane Chapin. Mamère claimed that there was nothing in French law to prohibit such a ceremony, and that he would appeal any challenge to the European Court of Human Rights.[14]

French Minister of Justice Dominique Perben had stated that such unions would be legally void, and called for judicial intervention to halt the ceremony.[15] On 27 July 2004, the Bordeaux Court of General Jurisdiction declared the marriage null and void. One legal argument defended by the public prosecutor, who, representing the national government, opposed the marriage, was that the French Civil Code contained several mentions of husband and wife, thereby implying different genders.[16] On 19 April 2005, the Appeals Court of Bordeaux upheld the ruling. On 14 March 2007, the Court of Cassation turned down Charpentier and Chapin's appeal.[17] On 9 June 2016, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the decision to invalidate Charpentier and Chapin's marriage did not constitute an infringement of the European Convention on Human Rights.[18][19][20]

Reaction[edit]

Shortly after the ceremony took place, Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin instituted disciplinary procedures against Mayor Mamère, suspending him from his duties for one month.[15] The local administrative court ruled that Mamère's suspension was legal and substantiated. Mamère said he would not appeal the ruling, having already unsuccessfully attempted to get an injunction from the court, then appealing the case to the Council of State; both had ruled that an injunction was not justified on grounds of urgency.

On 11 May 2004, Socialist Party leader François Hollande announced that he would ask his party to file a draft law making same-sex marriages unequivocally legal. Some other party leaders, such as former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, publicly disapproved of same-sex marriage. Hollande's partner, Ségolène Royal, said at the time that she harbored doubts about same-sex marriage, though now fully supports it.[21]

2006 parliamentary report[edit]

A parliamentary "Report on the Family and the Rights of Children" was released on 25 January 2006.[22] Although the committee recommended increasing some of the rights already granted by the PACS civil partnership, it recommended maintaining prohibitions against marriage, adoption, and access to medically assisted reproduction for same-sex couples, arguing that these three issues were inseparable and that allowing them would contravene a number of articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which France is a signatory (though many UN member nations did grant some or all of these rights to same-sex couples). Referring to the rights of children as a human rights issue, the report argued that children "now have rights, and to systematically give preference to adult aspirations over respect for these rights is not possible anymore."[23] Because of these prohibitions, left-wing members of the committee rejected the report.[24]

2011 Constitutional Council decision[edit]

LGBT organizations in France, believing that the prohibition of same-sex marriage was contrary to the Constitution, asked the country's Constitutional Council to examine the constitutionality of same-sex marriage and to review the articles of the Civil Code. On 28 January 2011, the Council decided that the illegality of same-sex marriages was not contrary to the Constitution, further stating that same-sex marriage legalization was a question for Parliament to decide.[25]

2011 bill[edit]

On 14 June 2011, the National Assembly of France voted 293–222 against legalizing same-sex marriage.[26] Deputies of the majority party Union for a Popular Movement mostly voted against the measure, while deputies of the Socialist Party mostly voted in favour. Members of the Socialist Party stated that legalization of same-sex marriage would become a priority should they gain a majority in the 2012 legislative election.[27]

Cabestany's 2011 same-sex marriage[edit]

On 12 November 2011, Cabestany Mayor Jean Vila performed a same-sex wedding ceremony for a couple named Patrick, 48, and Guillaume, 37.[28] The marriage was not recorded in order to prevent a subsequent nullification, and Vila described it as a "militant act", saying that: "There are times when it is necessary to act outside the law. Refusing homosexual marriage is to deny the reality of thousands of couples."[29]

The French Government's reaction was mixed: junior Families Minister Claude Greff called the event a "provocation on the eve of the presidential election", while Solidarity Minister Roselyne Bachelot stated that she supported same-sex marriage but that the ceremony was "not the best way to advance the cause".[29]

2012–2013 bill[edit]

The French Parliament votes for same-sex marriage, 23 April 2013.

During his campaign for the 2012 presidential election, Socialist Party candidate François Hollande declared his support for same-sex marriage and for adoption by same-sex couples, including them as one of his campaign's 60 government commitments.[30] On 6 May 2012, Hollande won the election and promised to pass same-sex marriage legislation before the spring of 2013.[31] On 17 June, Hollande's party won an absolute majority in the French Assembly,[32] followed by an announcement by government spokesperson Najat Vallaud-Belkacem that a same-sex marriage bill would be adopted in spring 2013 at the latest.[33] On 3 July, in his first speech in front of the newly elected assembly, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced that marriage and adoption for everybody would be a reality "in the first semester of 2013".[34] The draft bill was submitted to Parliament on 7 November 2012.[35]

On 2 February 2013, the National Assembly approved the first article of the same-sex marriage bill by 249 votes against 97;[36] the debate took several days as opponents introduced more than 5,000 amendments to the bill in order to slow down its passage. On 12 February 2013, the National Assembly approved the bill as a whole in a 329–229 vote and sent it to the Senate.[37]

On 4 April 2013, the Senate started the debate on the bill and five days later approved its first article in a 179–157 vote.[38] On 12 April, the Senate approved the bill with minor amendments in a 171–165 vote.[39][40][41] The Senate version of the marriage bill was adopted by the National Assembly on 23 April 2013 in a 331–225 vote.[42][43]

The opposition UMP party immediately filed a challenge against the law to the Constitutional Council.[44][45] On 17 May 2013, the Council declared the law constitutional.[5] The same day, President Francois Hollande promulgated the bill, which was officially published on 18 May 2013,[2] in the Journal Officiel. The first official same-sex wedding ceremony took place on 29 May in the city of Montpellier.[8]

The same-sex marriage law is commonly referred to in France as la loi Taubira ("the Taubira law"), after Justice Minister Christiane Taubira who introduced the bill to the French Assembly in November 2012 and was the bill's main sponsor.[46]

In June 2013, the French Government issued a bulletin "relating to the consequences of illegally refusing to celebrate a marriage on the part of a civil registrar" (circulaire du 13 juin 2013 relative aux conséquences du refus illégal de célébrer un mariage de la part d'un officier d'état civil), wherein it declared the illegality of any refusal by a state officer to grant marriage certificates to same-sex couples. The bulletin stipulates a punishment of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of 75,000 euros for any mayor or local official who refuses to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple on the sole basis of their sexual orientation.[47] The official may also face discrimination charges under Article 432-7 of the Penal Code. 146 mayors unsuccessfully challenged the bulletin in French courts. Their case eventually made its way to the European Court of Human Rights, which dismissed it in October 2018.[48]

Scope[edit]

There had been initial confusion over whether the act applied to nationals of Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Kosovo, Laos, Montenegro, Morocco, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia or Tunisia, as it breached bilateral agreements stipulating that the law of those countries applies, rather than French law.[49] The Court of Cassation ruled that it does in September 2015, finding the provisions excluding these countries discriminatory and contrary to French law.[50]

Marriage statistics[edit]

Evolution of marriage (red) and civil unions (blue) in France (INSEE).

The marriage rates of same-sex couples in France has remained relatively constant over the years, except in 2014 when there was an increase in marriages.

In 2013, following the implementation of same-sex marriage in France, approximately 7,000 same-sex couples were legally married in the country.[51] They made up approximately 3% of all marriages at that time, with three out of every five same-sex marriages involving male couples.

In 2014, approximately 10,000 same-sex marriages took place in France, representing 4% of all marriages performed that year.[52] 54% of these marriages were between men, while the remaining 46% were between women.[53] Some 6,000 French communes celebrated at least one same-sex marriage. 1,331 same-sex couples married in the French capital of Paris, comprising 13.5% of the total number of weddings performed in the city.[54]

In 2015, 7,751 same-sex couples wed in France, representing 3.4% of all marriages. Additionally, that same year, some 7,017 same-sex PACS were celebrated throughout the country. In 2016, 7,113 same-sex marriages were performed in the country, making up around 3% of all marriages. There were also 7,102 same-sex PACS.[55]

From May 2013 to December 2016, approximately 32,640 same-sex marriages were performed in France.[56]

In 2017, approximately 7,000 same-sex couples got married in France.[57]

By 23 April 2018, five years after the French Parliament had approved the same-sex marriage law, approximately 40,000 same-sex couples had married in the country. This represented about 3.5% of all marriages performed during that time.[58] Of these, most were celebrated in Paris (9.7% of all same-sex marriages), Calvados (5.6%), Charente-Maritime (5.4%), Hérault (5.1%), Orne (4.8%), and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (4.6%). In contrast, the departments with the least same-sex marriages were Guadeloupe (0.3%), Mayotte (0.6%), Martinique (0.6%), French Guiana (1%), Haute-Corse (1.1%), and Réunion (1.2%).[59]

Overseas departments and territories[edit]

Map showing the percentage of same-sex marriages in France by department, 2014-2018. The Overseas departments recorded far lower percentages than metropolitan France.

In Martinique, the first same-sex marriage, between a lesbian couple, was celebrated in June 2013.[60] The first same-sex wedding in Guadeloupe occurred in July 2013 in the city of Saint-Anne.[61] In Mayotte, the first same-sex wedding was performed in September 2013 in Mamoudzou, the largest city in the department.[62] This marked the first time in history that a legally recognized same-sex marriage occurred in a jurisdiction where a majority of the population follows the religion of Islam.

In Réunion, the first same-sex marriage, of a lesbian couple, was performed in June 2013.[63] By July 2015, 93 same-sex couples had married on the island.[64]

The first same-sex marriage in French Guiana took place in August 2013.[65] The couple wed in the city of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni. By April 2015, only five same-sex marriages had been performed in French Guiana.[66] By April 2018, 12 same-sex couples had married in the capital Cayenne.[67]

The first same-sex marriage in French Polynesia took place on the island of Mo'orea in July 2013.[68] In Saint Martin, the first same-sex marriage was celebrated in October 2013,[69] while Saint Pierre and Miquelon's first was performed in March 2014.[70]

By February 2014, 11 same-sex marriages had occurred in New Caledonia, representing 1.7% of all marriages. 9 of these marriages were celebrated in the South Province and the remaining 2 were celebrated in the North Province.[71]

Overall, relatively few same-sex marriages have been performed in French overseas departments and territories compared with the number of those performed in metropolitan France. According to a 2018 report, eight same-sex marriages had been celebrated in Saint Barthélemy, five in French Polynesia, four in Saint Martin, two in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and one in Wallis and Futuna since legalization.[72]

Public opinion[edit]

Opinion polls show that the French public supports the legalization of same-sex marriage:

  • A 1996 Ifop poll found that 48% of respondents supported same-sex marriage, with 33% opposed.[73]
  • A 2003 Gallup poll found that 58% of respondents supported same-sex marriage.[74]
  • A May 2004 Ipsos poll found that 57% of respondents supported same-sex marriage, with 38% opposed. Younger people were particularly in favour, with 75% of those under 35 in support. Nevertheless, only 40% were in favour of same-sex adoption rights, though 56% of those younger than 35 were in support.[75]
  • A 2004 Ifop poll found 64% of respondents in support of same-sex marriage, with 49% supporting adoption rights.[73]
  • A 2006 Eurobarometer survey found that 48% of respondents supported same-sex marriage being allowed "throughout Europe". This was 4% above the EU average. Support for adoption rights was at 35%, 3% above the EU average.[76]
  • A 2006 Ipsos poll found that 61% of respondents favoured the recognition of civil marriage for same-sex couples.[77]
  • A June 2006 Taylor Nelson Sofres poll found that 45% of respondents supported same-sex marriage, with 51% opposed. 36% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[77]
  • A June 2008 Ifop poll found 62% of respondents in favour of same-sex marriage, with 38% against. 51% supported adoption rights. Support was very high among younger people, with 77% of those aged between 25 and 34 in favour.[78]
  • A November 2009 BVA poll found 64% of respondents in favour of same-sex marriage, including for the first time a majority of right-wing voters. 57% supported adoption rights (support was 68% among those between 18 and 25 years old).[79]
  • A July 2010 Crédoc poll found 61% of respondents in favour of same-sex marriage, while 48% supported adoption rights.[80]
  • A January 2011 Taylor Nelson Sofres poll found that 58% of respondents supported same-sex marriage, with 35% opposed. Support was 74% among those under 35 years old. 49% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[81]
  • A June 2011 Ifop poll found that 63% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, while 58% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[82]
  • A December 2011 BVA poll found that 63% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, while 56% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[83]
  • An August 2012 Ifop poll found that 65% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, while 53% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[84]
  • An October 2012 Ifop poll found that 61% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, while 48% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[85]
  • An October 2012 BVA poll found that 58% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, while 50% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[86]
  • A December 2012 CSA Institute poll found that 54% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, while 48% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[87]
  • A December 2012 Ifop poll found that 60% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, while 46% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[88]
  • A December 2012—January 2013 YouGov poll found that 47% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, while 38% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[89]
  • A January 2013 Ifop poll found that 60% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, while 46% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[90]
  • A January 2013 OpinionWay poll found that 57% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, while 45% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[91]
  • A January 2013 Ifop poll found that 63% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, while 49% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[92]
  • A February 2013 Ifop poll found that 66% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, while 47% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[93]
  • An April 2013 BVA poll found that 58% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, while 47% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[94]
  • An April 2013 Ifop/Atlantico poll found that 51% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples.[95]
  • An April 2013 Ifop poll found that 53% of respondents were in favour of the new law allowing same-sex marriage and adoption rights.[96]
  • A May 2013 Ipsos poll found that 51% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage and another 29% supported other forms of recognition for same-sex couples.[97]
  • A May 2013 Ifop poll found that 52% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples.[98]
  • A May 2013 Ifop/Atlantico found that 53% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples.[99]
  • A February 2014 BVA poll found that 61% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage and 50% were in favour of adoption rights for same-sex couples.[100]
  • An April 2014 BVA poll found that 55% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage and 48% were in favour of adoption rights for same-sex couples.[101]
  • A September 2014 iTélé poll showed that 73% of respondents including 56% of those who support the UMP would oppose the repeal of same-sex marriage.[102]
  • A September–October 2014 Ifop poll showed that 57% of respondents were against repealing the law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.[103]
  • A November 2014 Ifop/Atlantico found that 68% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage and 53% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[104]
  • A May–June 2015 Eurobarometer found that 71% of French people thought that same-sex marriage should be allowed throughout Europe, while 24% were against.[105]
  • A June 2015 BVA poll found that 67% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, 64% were against revising the 2013 law and 57% were in favour of adoption rights for same-sex couples.[106]
  • An August 2016 Ifop poll for the Association of Homosexual Families (ADFH) found that 65% of respondents opposed repealing the 2013 law.[107]
  • A Pew Research Center poll, conducted between April and August 2017 and published in May 2018, showed that 73% of French people supported same-sex marriage, 23% were opposed and 4% didn't know or refused to answer.[108] When divided by religion, 85% of religiously unaffiliated people, 78% of non-practicing Christians and 59% of church-attending Christians supported same-sex marriage.[109] Opposition to same-sex marriage was 17% among 18–34-year-olds.[110]
  • The 2019 Eurobarometer found that 79% of French people thought same-sex marriage should be allowed throughout Europe, while 15% were against.[111] The EU average in favour was 69%.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Occitan: pacte civil de solidaritat; Corsican: pattu civili di sulidarità;[9] Breton: emglev keodedel a gengred;[10] Catalan: pacte civil de solidaritat;[11] Tahitian: fa'aaura'a autaea'era'a;[12] Basque: zibila elkartasun ituna;[13] Wallisian: kotala o fakatautehina.

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