Same-sex wedding challenge

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FRANCE’S ban on same-sex marriage was challenged yesterday when a mayor presided over the wedding of two men.

Jean Vila – Communist mayor of Cabestany in Languedoc-Roussillon in the south-west of the country – wore the traditional tricolour sash as Patrick, 48, and Guillaume, 37, tied the knot.

The event drew a swift rebuke from a junior minister in the government of conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy who described it as an electoral provocation ahead of next year’s presidential polls.

But after the ceremony in the town hall of Cabestany, about 25 miles from the border with Catalonia in Spain, Vila said: “To outlaw gay marriage is to deny the reality of thousands of homosexual couples.

“This decision to join these two people for me is an act of anger and revolt in the face of the authorities’ refusal to legitimise such unions.”

Vila declined to enter the marriage in the official registry, however, to avoid it being later annulled as happened with two men who were married in France in 2004.

France currently only allows civil unions for same-sex couples, a status which confers fewer rights than marriage.

France’s constitutional authority in January upheld its ban on gay weddings and, in June, parliament rejected an opposition Socialist Party bill attempting to legalise them.