France: Former President who wants to repeal same-sex marriage elected as opposition leader

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who wants to repeal same-sex marriage, has been elected to lead the main opposition party.

Same-sex weddings began in the country in May last year under Socialist François Hollande, and since the laws took effect over 7,000 gay and lesbian couples have married.

However, former UMP leader Nicolas Sarkozy – who was President until 2012 – has recently called for the law, which also legalises gay adoption, to be scrapped if his party gets back into power.

Today, the 59-year-old beat out his two rivals to become the leader of the UMP once again, securing 64.5 percent of the party’s votes.

Rights activists are worried that the thousands of legally married couples would be left without legal protections or rights if Mr Sarkozy successfully becomes President again.

Speaking at an event earlier this month, Mr Sarkozy – who has been married three times – said the laws “should be rewritten from the ground up”.

However, when the crowd chanted “Repeal! Repeal! Repeal!”, he added: ‘If you prefer that I say repeal the law… it comes down to the same thing.”

Such a move would leave thousands of legally married couples without legal protections or rights – and would split apart families who have already adopted.

Despite his calls, polls have consistently found the public support both same-sex unions and adoption – with 68 percent and 53 percent in favour of each respectively.

Sarkozy had pledged to deliver civil unions during his first term in office in 2007 – a promise which he later broke, scrapping the planned reform.

In July, Sarkozy was charged with corruption by French prosecutors – and could face up to ten years in prison for the crimes.