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Gay marriage opponents in French court as first couple marries

Vincent Autin (L) and Bruno Boileau sign the marriage registrer at Montpellier town hall
Vincent Autin (L) and Bruno Boileau sign the marriage registrer at Montpellier town hall Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier

As France’s first same-sex marriage took place in the south, a court in Paris heard the cases of protesters who clashed with police during Sunday’s demonstration against the gay marriage law.

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The wedding was a “historic moment”, declared Hélène Mandroux, the mayor of Montpellier, the southern city where it took place.

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“This is a step towards the modernisation of our country, towards liberty, equality, the principles that our republic is based on,” she said when opening the ceremony.

The couple, Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau, paid tribute to activists who had fought for the right to same-sex marriage and, in a reference to the campaign against the new law, called for an end to “the hatred that we have heard and that we have all been so upset by”.

The couple’s parents declared themselves “proud” to be the first to celebrate such a marriage.

Five people were detained by police during a small demonstration outside Montpellier town hall, two for letting off fireworks. Only one was charged, for shouting homophobic insults.

A Paris court on Wednesday evening started hearing cases against some of the 300-plus people arrested during Sunday’s protest against the new law.

One defendant wasgiven suspended sentences of four months and another two were fined 10 euros a day for 30 days, a sentence that means a day in jail for each day when the fine is not paid.

One of the defending lawyers, Jérôme Triomphe, denounced “police terror” during the demonstration and said that he and 30 colleagues would be lodging a case against “arbitrary arrests”.

“These people have the feeling of being despised and oppressed because they don’t think as the government does,” he said.

The hearings continued on Thursday morning.

The best-known opponent of the law, Frigide Barjot, wished the Montepellier couple well, while declaring that she would campaign for the law to be repealed.

Barjot, who has fallen out with many anti-gay marriage campaigners, on Wednesday announced the formation of a new movement, Avenir pour tous (Future for all), which would press candidates in upcoming municipal elections to back repeal and support civil union without adoption rights, for same-sex couples.

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