Tuesday, July 09, 2013
French mayor facing five years in prison for saying he would rather 'go to the gallows' than marry two gay men
A French mayor could face five years in prison after saying today that he would rather 'go to the gallows' than marry two gay men. Jean-Michel Colo, who officiates near the south-western city of Bayonne has refused to wed Jean-Michel Martin and Guy Martineau-Espel.
The couple are now suing the mayor for discrimination, claiming that Mr Colo is breaching the same-sex marriage law which came into force across France last month.
The dispute is now set to provide a test case for the new marriage law which has proven divisive in France and has already seen thousands take to the streets to protest.
Mr Colo, 60, has been mayor of the small village of Arcangues, in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques department, for the past three decades. He now risks five years in prison and a fine of around £64,000 for his refusal to officiate at the wedding of Mr Martin and Mr Martineau-Espel, who are both in their 50s.
'For me, marriage is for a woman and man to have children,' said Mr Colo. 'I am not discriminating as a same-sex couple is sterile. It's a parody of equality, it's a big lie.'
Mr Colo added that he would rather 'go to the gallows' than back down on the vexed issue. He has argued there is a 'conscience clause' in the new legislation which allows public officials not to take part in gay marriages.
But Isabelle Duguet, the couple's lawyer, said she had filed a case against Mr Colo for discrimination and for refusing to carry out his official duties.