What Happens when Gay Marriage Meets Geo Politics?

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France Upsets Morocco After It Decides to Authorize Franco-Moroccan Gay Marriage

Great news for advocates of equality and anti-discrimination!

The French Cassation Court, one of France’s courts of last resort and the highest authority on all matters pertaining to civil affairs, has decided today to authorize a same-sex marriage between a French and a Moroccan citizen as reported in French by Le Monde in a precedent-setting case

While most welcome this as a sign of progress, the Court has now put France in an embarrassing diplomatic situation. France and Morocco haven’t been the best friends in the world lately, with Paris having filed suit against Rabat to report instances of ‘torture’ by the head of the Moroccan secret services.

International agreement 

Indeed, both countries had signed in 1981 a dual agreement relative to “the status of persons and the family and of judicial co-operation”. The convention covers many areas, including custody issues in the case of divorced mixed couples.

It also states that that in the case of mixed marriages, both members of the marriage need to comply with the marriage laws of both countries. While same-sex marriage is legal in France, it is forbidden in Morocco.

The French Court showed great liberalism in its rulings, stating that the Liberty to get married overrules the Convention. In doing so, it actually confirms two rulings made by two lower French Courts in October 2013, the Court of First Instance of Chambery and by the Appeal Court of Chambery, which authorized the couple to wed but were appealed by the public Prosecutor. The latter explained that the Chancellery had circulated a note following the 2013 law on gay marriage to explain that citizens from 11 countries, including Morocco, could not wed a same-same partner “based on international conventions”.

Discrete wedding 

In spite of the appeal, Dominique and Mohammed decided to wed discretely on November 9 in Jacob-Bellecombette, near Chambery in the Savoy region.

Fundamental rights and precedent setting laws

The Cassation Court bases the ruling on art. 4 of the Convention, which states that: “the law of either country can be discarded if it disrupts public order”, which includes fundamental rights in French law. Freedom to marry is a actually fundamental right open to same-sex couples in France.

Moroccan jurists have denounced the marriage multiple times, including by publishing an open letter in December 15, 2014 in Le Figaro, one of France’s top publications. They refuse to have France ‘impose’ a homosexual marriage on Morocco and make the stance that a ruling in favor of a same-sex bi-national marriage would be in violation of ‘Moroccan sovereignty’. The main issue, they argue, is that a positive ruling would undermine ‘the credibility of international conventions. 

While there is no doubt that the French Court took this into consideration, it actually made the case that ‘while Morocco doesn’t authorize same-sex marriage, it doesn’t reject it absolutely’. The Court also made the case that the Moroccan citizen had a ‘tie to France’ since he was a resident of the country.

Let’s see whether this will suffice to appease our Moroccan partners…