Gay marriage to be debated in French Constitutional Council

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A lesbian couple will see their challenge to reverse France’s ban on gay marriage discussed by the country’s highest authority this week.

Corinne Cestino and Sophie Haßlau launched the bid in May 2010 at the Tribunal de Grande instance of Reims to question the constitutionality of France’s position on gay marriage.

The couple, a paediatrician and an English teacher, have four children and live together in a village outside Reims. They entered into a PACS, a civil union, ten years ago.

On 16 November, the Court of Cassation referred the case to the highest constitutional authority in France, citing an “issue of constitutionality”, on Articles 75 and 144 of the Civil Code, which exclude the civil marriage of same sex.

The high court recommended that the issue be forwarded to the Constitutional Council, as gay marriage is “now the subject of wide debate in society, in particular because of the evolution of manners and recognition of marriage between same sex legislation in several foreign countries.”

Gay marriages are recognised in Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

Last year, the Constitutional Council did not issue a decision on discrimination based on sexual orientation in adoption cases, stating that this would have been political, and an issue for the country’s legislature.

Emmanuel Ludor, the couple’s lawyer, said: “They want to get married because they consider it an essential tool for building a family.”

A statement from the Council is expected on 28 January.