UPDATE: France: Couple officially married again after 'virginity lie' appeal overturned

The Guardian
A French appeals court reinstated the marriage of a Muslim couple today, overturning an earlier annulment won by the groom after the bride admitted lying about her virginity.
The couple married in 2006 but the husband quickly sought an annulment after discovering that the bride was not a virgin.
In a controversial case that pitted France's secular values against the traditions of its growing immigrant communities, a lower court in the northern town of Douai granted the annulment in April, saying the woman "acquiesced" to the man's demand to end the marriage "based on a lie concerning her virginity".

Today, the appeals court in Douai overturned the annulment, effectively ruling that the couple are married, said Xavier Labbee, the husband's lawyer.

Labbee said the latest ruling amounted to a "forced marriage." He criticised "the intrusion of the notion of secularism into the most intimate parts of family life".

Both the woman and the man opposed the appeal, according to their lawyers. The woman's lawyer, Charles-Edouard Mauger, has said she was distraught by the dragging out of the humiliating case.

The couple must now seek a divorce if they want to separate.

Prosecutors argued the annulment discriminated against women and wanted it thrown out. The lower court had based its decision 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."

The couple, a man in his 30s and a woman in her 20s, has not been named.

In today's decision, the appeals court said virginity was not "a condition posed for their union", according to a statement from the prosecutor's office. It said the lie was not enough to justify an annulment.

17 November 2008

Source: The Guardian