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 Council said it found no conflict between the law as it stands and fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution. It ruled that it was up to parliament, rather than the constitutional authorities, to decide whether the law should change.
The two women who appealed to the Council are raising four children together, three of them conceived through artificial insemination. They say they want to marry to be able to officially share parental authority, clarify inheritance rights and guarantee custody rights for all the children if one died.
Henri Guiano, an adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy, said shortly before the verdict was made public that the matter was one for political leaders and not lawyers, signalling that nothing should change without in-depth political debate. “This is a question of society, of civilisation even,” said Guiano. “This is a matter that could maybe be broached during the presidential election campaign, by parliamentary debate, but not just for the law,” he said.