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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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French Muslim registrar sent to court for refusing to perform gay ‘marriage’

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

MARSEILLE, September 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – A public prosecutor in Marseille, the main city on the south coast of France, has demanded a 1,500-euro fine (about 1,680 dollars) and a suspended prison sentence of three months against a deputy mayor in charge of marriage celebrations who used a "stratagem" in order to avoid registering a same-sex "marriage."

Sabrina Hout was sued by a lesbian couple complaining that they had been discriminated against on the grounds of "sexual orientation." Hout is of North African origin and Islamic background.

The intended "marriage" was between two native Frenchwomen, Claude and Hélène, who wanted their union to be registered in the 8th sector of Marseille, in the northern neighborhood where they live and work and where the population is now mainly of Islamic descent. The ceremony took place on the 16th of August, 2014, more than a year after same-sex "marriage" was made legal in France.

Hout was the "civil officer" in charge. She signed the register as well as the official family record book for the couple beforehand – this constitutes a forgery – and then slipped out of the room, leaving another council member who did not have the capacity to register civil marriages to lead the celebration.

The circumstances soon became known to the press, and there was uproar over Hout's refusal to celebrate a same-sex "marriage," apparently for religious reasons. She gave contradictory accounts of the event, but she said at one point that her brothers had pressured her into it. "If you perform those marriages, you'll go to hell," they told her. She later said she never refused to celebrate the wedding for religious reasons, explaining that she "suddenly felt ill" on that day, even though she went through four other celebrations on the same day. She received an official reprimand, and a public complaint was lodged, but in the first instance the public prosecutor was content to leave it at that.

Angry at what had happened, the lesbian couple decided to sue on their own behalf. At the hearing in Marseille, on Tuesday, Hout admitted that she had "reservations" about same-sex "marriage" at the time of the wedding: "I was undecided, it was so new. I had to think about it."

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Several town hall workers as well as the municipal council member who replaced Hout testified in favor of the lesbian couple: the main point they made was that she had acted for religious reasons.

The public prosecutor, Marie-Blanche Régnier, called the lesbian couple's judicial struggle "legitimate and just."

France's same-sex "marriage" law makes no provision for conscientious objection, despite promises made beforehand by president François Hollande. Hollande rescinded such promises in order not to condone any form of "discrimination."

Ironically, the affair took place in the only local city council in Marseille with a socialist majority. The senator and mayor, Samia Ghali – also of North African descent – was to "re"-celebrate Claude's and Hélène's "marriage" last February after it was annulled because of the multiple illegalities affecting the first one.

Ghali unsuccessfully tried to convince Hout to step down from her position as a councilor and later put an end to her special delegation for family affairs.

The women's lawyer said that pro-gay associations "had expected to be battling against good heterosexuals, Catholics, male chauvinists, and fascists; here we are, facing a young woman who is left-wing, single, modern, and a Muslim." His clients added that in the northern quarters of Marseille, such "discrimination" is "unheard of": "We never had to weather a disagreeable remark or even a look," Claude said.

Only a handful of right-wing mayors and councilors have refused to celebrate same-sex "marriages" in France since the law passed. Not a single mayor has flatly refused to celebrate a homosexual union, as some had said they would, without delegating his or her powers of registrar to a more willing councilor, chosen if necessary within the opposition. Those few mayors who did voice their opposition after the law came into effect ended up arguing that they could do more good by staying at their post rather than risking to lose it or to be prosecuted.

Yohann Roszéwitch, president of SOS-Homophobia, notes that "even the most refractory mayors have caved in." There has not been a single infringement of the law, he said in a media interview concerning the present affair. Seventeen thousand five hundred same-sex "marriages" have taken place since June 2013, some 4 percent of the total number. If its proponents are to be believed, such relationships have become mainstream.

At her hearing, Hout's counsel called several witnesses to the bench in order to testify that she has never been guilty of "homophobia" in any way, and only requested indulgence against the condemnation the tribunal for penal affairs might pronounce – i.e., that the council inscribe no such condemnation in the national crime register.

At the end of the hearing, Hout clasped the plaintiffs hands and wished them "happiness."

The Marseille penal tribunal will render its judgment on September 29. The maximum penalty for a registrar who illegally refuses to give access to a legal right is a 75,000-euro fine and 5 years' imprisonment.

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