France mayors cannot refuse gay marriages: Apex court

Paris, Oct 18 (IANS/AKI) Local officials would not be able to refuse to marry gay couples even if this goes against their consciences, France's highest court, the Constitutional Council, ruled Friday.

The lack of a "conscience clause" for opponents of a controversial law recognising same-sex marriage that entered into force May was constitutional, the court said.

A group of mayors and registrars had appealed against the legislation, saying it should include a "freedom of conscience" clause allowing officials not to conduct same-sex marriages if this clashed with their personal religious or moral beliefs.

The group of officials will now take their case to the European Court of Human Rights, the mayor of the southwestern French city of Arcangues, Jean-Michel Colo, was quoted as saying Friday by the daily Le Monde.

Gay marriage aroused stronger than expected opposition in France, with opinion polls suggesting nearly half of the population were against it.

By the end of August, some 600 gay marriages had taken place in France's 50 largest towns and cities.




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