EXCLUSIVE: Man forced to sell flat after French refuse to recognise civil partnership

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A gay man has spoken of his anger after French authorities refused to recognise a UK civil partnership.

Fernando Soares, 54, lost his life partner of 31 years, Nigel, to a rare form of stomach cancer in March.

Five years ago and long before Nigel had developed cancer they bought a small house together in the village of Ceret, near Perpignan, France.

They were in a legally registered civil partnership (CP) and assumed that their partnership would be recognised in France.

The French equivalent, the pacte civil de solidarité, known as the PACS, is fully recognised in Britain.

However, when they went to see a notary last summer in France, because Nigel wanted to write a will, they found out that France does not recognise their CP and Mr Soares discovered he would have to pay a 60% inheritance tax on the property.

“It is unfair because Britain gives French PACS couples the same rights and benefits.” Mr. Soares told PinkNews.co.uk

“We should have equal rights. The Civil Partnership Act recognises all legally registered partnerships in the world.

“For instance if you have your registration in Tasmania or Buenos Aires it is and will be recognised by the British government.”

While it denies British CP recognition, France recognises same sex marriages from Holland.

Both registered same-sex partners and married people in France pay no inheritance taxes and they are both allowed to pass on their assets to their partners.

“The French government has suggested that British CP couples should “divorce” and register as a French PACS,” said Mr Soares.

“That is something very difficult to do and it is ludicrous. Why we should cancel something legal and do the same in another country? And for me it is just impossible.”

In 1968 a double taxation treaty, article 25, was created as a reciprocal agreement between France and UK.

The article states that nationals in France and the UK should not be treated differently as regards to tax if they are in the same situation.

The treaty was recently rewritten and signed by the French Minister of Finance in June 2008 with the non discrimination clause left intact.

Amanda McAlister, a British solicitor who specialises in CP is appalled by the situation.

She believes that the French government’s stance is in breach of ‘right to family life,’ article 8 in the 1998 Human Rights Act guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The French are a nightmare in recognising other civil partnerships. The British are the best,” a French notary told PinkNews.co.uk

“This is a case of nationality discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination. I have to sell my flat in London to pay the tax,” Mr Soares said.

He has had little positive response from gay support groups or government officials.

The only support Mr Soares has received is from Michael Cashman, a member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands constituency.