France to Recognise Foreign Same-Sex Civil Unions and Partnerships

Fri May 1, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

By Hilary White

PARIS, May 1, 2009 ( - The French National Assembly has approved a measure in which civil unions or legal partnerships contracted in other countries will be recognised legally under the existing French legal definition of civil unions. The bill, which passed in the early hours of April 29, had already been accepted in the Senate and is expected to be endorsed by President Sarkozy.

It specifies that foreign partnerships will enjoy the same recognition in France as they do in their country of origin. For British people living in France, this could mean access to certain tax privileges. Until the passage of the measure, Britain and other EU countries recognised the legal partnerships of homosexual couples contracted in France, but France had refused to reciprocate.

In 1999, legislation, known as Partes Civil de Solidarité (PacS), was passed that legalized civil unions, allowing unmarried couples to enjoy some of the legal benefits of marriage, including welfare and employment benefits, joint tax returns, and property rights.

Homosexual "marriage" remains illegal in France, even with the passage of the measure, and marriage is defined officially as the union of a man and a woman. In 2006, the French courts declared null a same-sex "marriage" ceremony that had been conducted by Noel Mamére, Mayor of the Bordeaux suburb of Begles. The high court declared the marriage annulled, saying that "under French law, marriage is a union between a man and a woman."
Also in 2006, a commission was formed that, while recognizing that the French concept of family has become "more diverse and less institutionalized," said homosexual "marriage," adoption and artificial procreation for homosexual partners should not be permitted under French law. 

The bill passed this week was sponsored by Green Party senator Alima Boumediene-Thiery and jointly supported by Green and Socialist senators.

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