Following a pre-election promise to legalise gay marriage in France, the government of France’s socialist president François Hollande looks set to prohibit use of the words "mother" and "father" from all official documents, reports The Daily Telegraph
Under the plans, which have drawn a hostile reaction from leading French Roman Catholics, the word "parents" would be used in identical marriage ceremonies for all couples whether heterosexual or same-sex. The text of the new law, in draft form at this stage, states that "marriage is a union of two people, of different or the same gender".
All references to "mothers and fathers" in the French Civil Code, the embodiment of French Law, would be deleted and replaced by the word “parents”. The changes in French law would also give homosexual couples the same adoption rights as their heterosexual counterparts.
Speaking to French Catholic newspaper La Croix
, France’s Justice Minister Christiane Taubira
said, "Who is to say that a heterosexual couple will bring a child up better than a homosexual couple, that they will guarantee the best conditions for the child's development? What is certain is that the interest of the child is a major preoccupation for the government."
Back in August, as reported in Digital Journal, the Catholic Church in France had incensed gay rights activists by circulating a controversial ‘Prayer for France
’ which was read out at French Catholic churches over the Feast of the Assumption. Last week, the head of the French Catholic Church, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, seemed to add fuel to the flames warning followers that gay marriage could lead to legalised incest and polygamy. According to the Daily Mail
, interviewed by the Christian's RFC radio station the Cardinal said "Gay marriage would herald a complete breakdown in society. This could have innumerable consequences. Afterward they will want to create couples with three or four members. And after that, perhaps one day the taboo of incest will fall."
Pope Benedict XVI had previously invited 30 French bishops to the Vatican and urged them to campaign against the proposed new law, saying, "We have there a true challenge to take on. The family that is the foundation of social life is threatened in many places, following a concept of human nature that has proven defective."
There have been calls in France for a referendum on the issue of gay marriage. Leading French Bishop Dominique Rey was quoted in the Daily Mail
as saying, “A referendum must be held to allow a real debate and to make sure the government is not in the grip of the lobbies.” He went on to say, in a remark which gay rights activists would vehemently dispute, “A majority of the population agrees with the traditional view of marriage.”
The debate over gay marriage in France will continue but given the socialist majority in the French parliament, it seems likely that the designations ‘mother’ and ‘father’ will disappear from the French Civil Code some time after draft law is presented to President François Hollande’s cabinet for approval on October 31.