Same-sex couple's fury after being told to 'divorce and remarry' to protect rights on move to France

JOE MURPHY
Anger: Leandro Barreto, left, and François Souyri with their seven-year-old son

A same-sex couple planning to move from London to France have voiced their anger at being told they would have to get divorced to secure their legal rights.

Leandro Barreto and François Souyri say French authorities refused to recognise their UK marriage and told them to divorce then remarry under French law to obtain the same rights for themselves and their adopted son.

Game developer Mr Barreto, 43, said: “That’s not something we can do, it’s not an option. We’re caught in limbo.” At least a dozen couples have been caught in the same situation, according to PinkNews. Those affected originally entered into civil partnerships.

They were offered the right to convert their unions into marriages after David Cameron’s government passed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. Those who took up the offer were given marriage certificates backdated to the original date of their civil partnership without any extra ceremony.

Mr Barreto and Mr Souyri entered a civil partnership in 2008, which was later converted into a marriage. They decided to emigrate to France, which also has same-sex marriages, and as-sumed there would be no problems.

However, officials said their marriage was invalid under French law because there were no witnesses and the marriage certificate was backdated. Their plans were put on hold amid concern that their seven-year-old son’s adoption would not be recognised.

Leandro said the suggestion they divorce and remarry was “outrageous”. He told PinkNews: “It’s nonsensical. Even if we wanted to do it we have no grounds to divorce.” A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said the UK was “aware that some couples are facing this issue” but it was “a matter for the French government”.

French MP Alexandre Holroyd, who represents overseas citizens, said he had been contacted by four or five couples: “This is not an isolated incident. There are people who are angry, which is understandable.”

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