A French appeals court has reinstated the marriage of a Muslim man who sought an annulment because his bride lied about being a virgin. A lower court granted the annulment but the appellate court has declared that they are still unhappily married.
The couple married in 2006 and the lower court in northern town of Douai granted the annulment, stating that the woman “acquiesced” to the man’s demand for one “based on a lie concerning her virginity.” The annulment was based on an article of the French Civil Code that states that a spouse can seek an annulment if the partner has misrepresented his or her “essential qualities.”
What is most interesting here is that both the man and the woman opposed the appeal. However, prosecutors insisted that the annulment discriminated against women. They must now seek a divorce.
It is a distinction between an annulment and a divorce. However, it raises an interesting question. Increasingly Western courts have been enforcing ruling by religious courts. Annulments are often sought on the basis of a violation of a core religious article of faith, such as the annulments secured by Catholics. The French ruling suggests that such religious criteria cannot be used as an “essential quality” of marriage.
I personally find the virginity issue to be perfectly medieval. Yet, the case does raise the question of why state and countries have annulment proceedings. Of course, my preference (stated too many times before) is to have a uniform civil union license that can be entered into or dissolved by adult couples (including same-sex couples).
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