French mayors will not be allowed to refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, according to a Constitutional Council ruling.
Seven mayors challenged the law legalising same-sex marriage, arguing that it infringed their freedom of conscience. However, the Council has rejected their appeal, stating that “freedom of conscience is not violated by officiating at weddings”.
Franck Meyer, a spokesperson for the group, said they would take their case to the European Court of Human Rights:
“We have been reminded of freedom of conscience, which is guaranteed by our Constitution,” he said.
“But then we are told to apply the law (…) We are not civil servants, we are local representatives who are elected on the basis of our convictions.”
Mayors who refuse to perform a ceremony through opposition to the law could face up to five years in jail, or a €7,500 fine.
Mathieu Nocent, a spokesperson for the Inter-LGBT association, said:
“This is a fight too many for anti-gay marriage groups. They have to adapt to the idea that the law is what it is and same-sex couples are now able to be married.”
Same-sex marriage was legalised in France in May as part of President Hollande’s flagship social reforms. More than 600 same-sex couples have been married since the law was passed.
However, opposition to the law was far stronger than expected, provoking some of the biggest public demonstrations France had seen in decades.