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French uproar over dictionary's marriage definition

Date

Bruno Waterfield

Divisions: Protests against gay marriage continue as the legislation goes through parliament.

Divisions: Protests against gay marriage continue as the legislation goes through parliament. Photo: AFP

BRUSSELS: Larousse, the authoritative French dictionary, has infuriated right-wing MPs after it altered its definition of marriage to a union of "two persons" rather than "between man and woman".

MPs from the opposition UMP have called for boycotts of the dictionary after accusing it of taking sides in France's debate on gay marriage.

Larousse's 2014 edition, due to be published in June, defines marriage as a "solemn act between two same-sex or different-sex persons, who decide to establish a union".

The government of Francois Hollande has proposed a gay marriage law and the legislation is being contested in parliament.

Laurent Wauquiez, the vice-president of the UMP, criticised Larousse for taking sides and pre-empting the final parliamentary vote on an issue that has divided France.

"It's incredible, this is not normal, the law has not passed yet. I'm a member of parliament, I believe in what I do and I find it incredible," he said. "I studied politics and social sciences from their books. I can't believe they are doing this."

Herve Mariton, a UMP MP and a vocal opponent of gay marriage, has called for a boycott of the dictionary for taking a decision "contemptuous of parliamentary debate".

"Such disregard of democracy must be condemned," he said.

Larousse has tried to play down the row by noting that since 2009 it has carried a definition of gay marriage even though it did not yet exist under French law. "We evolve definitions under the law but also according to usage," a spokesman said. "For us it is the use of the word that determines if one accepts or not to incorporate it into our dictionaries."

Telegraph, London

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