Bollène, France – A far-right mayor of Bollène in the south of France has refused to marry a lesbian couple, defying the country’s recently passed marriage equality law.
The couple, however, had regional authorities force mayor Marie-Claude Bompard to comply with the law.
Amandine Gilles, 33, and Angélique Leroux, 27, were hoping to get married on September 10, but on Friday Bompard told them that she would not carry out the ceremony because it was against her religious principles, reported RFI.
The mayor also refused to delegate to the matter, according to the law, to a councilor, to carry out the ceremony.
Bompard is a member of far-right party the Ligue du Sud (Southern League), led by her husband, Jacques, which recently split from France’s largest right-wing party, Le Front National.
The mayor of nearby Saint-Saturnin-lès-Avignon, Bernard Goudon, phoned the couple and offered to carry out the ceremony, but the couple said they’d prefer to have Marie-Claude Bompard carry out her legal obligations.
Bompard said earlier that she would ask the prefect of Vaucluse, head of the regional authority, to designate somebody else to carry out the ceremony.
It is illegal to refuse to officiate same-sex weddings, or fail to delegate it to be carried out by a fellow councilor. Offenders face prosecution for discrimination with a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and a fine of €63,000 (US$ 84,240).
Bollène council’s head of communications, Jean Vallier, insisted that the mayor’s opposition was a “case of conscience,” and accused the government of threatening “disproportionate and illegitimate” sanctions against mayors who refuse to carry out the marriage equality laws.
France’s ministry of Justice has now opened a preliminary investigation against the conduct of Bollène’s mayor, reported Le Parsien daily.
Yannick Blanc, prefect of Vaucluse, finally forced Bollène’s authorities to carry out the marriage, which was celebrated on Tuesday evening by the town’s cultural officer.
In June, a gay French couple was also denied a marriage ceremony by the mayor of Arcangues, in southwest France.