A multinational same sex couple face the prospect of having to abandon plans to move to France.
London-based Leandro Barreto and François Souyri have now been together for nine years. They entered a civil partnership in 2008 and later took advantage of the option to convert civil partnerships into a full legal marriage, as well as adopting a son, who is now seven years old.
They now want to relocate across the Channel, back to François’ native France in the wake of the Brexit vote, but have run into a huge legal hurdle. Their converted marriage is not recognised under French law because marriages are only considered valid if they were entered into at a full, properly witnessed wedding ceremony. And if their marriage was not valid under French law, the adoption of their son would also not be recognised by the authorities there and he would have no legal rights.
When they asked what could they do, French officials reportedly told the couple they should consider getting divorced and remarrying. Mr Barreto, 43, who is a video game developer, told Pink News:
“That’s not an option for us. I think it’s outrageous. A government of a country advising people to get divorced. Why on earth would it happen? It’s completely nonsensical.”
In any case, Leandro and François would have had to present grounds for their divorce in the UK.
“It’s a really delicate situation for us; it’s caused a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. I don’t want to tell my son that his dad is not his dad in France. That would be too hard for him to process.”
The couple investigated marrying a second time in France at a witnessed ceremony but soon discovered that it is not possible to marry in France if the parties have already married abroad.
Mr Barreto said the couple’s situation amounted to:
“We’re married but also not married. They just say, there’s nothing we can do for you. Computer says no.”
He and his husband have now teamed up with a number of other couples in the same situation via a networking group on Facebook and are considering legal action against the French government.
But they believe both governments are to blame for their predicament.
“The French government is going by the letter, so it’s basically just unresolved technicalities. On the British side, we had the rushed legislation that they did just for electoral purposes. They didn’t do it in a proper way.”