Gilles Bernheim, the head of France’s Jewish community, has called upon French politicians and public to reject gay marriage.
He made his comments in an open letter today (18 October) to the government and lawmakers,
Chief Rabbi Bernheim said that marriage needed to be ‘protected’ as an institution ‘solely between men and women’.
He slammed the proposed bill which is popularly known in France as ‘marriage for all’ saying that it was ‘nothing but a slogan’.
He wrote: ‘The argument that marriage is for all of those in love does not hold — it is not because people love each other that they systematically have the right to marry.
‘Marriage is not only a recognition of love. It is the institution that links the joining of a man and woman with the succession of generations.’
He said that ‘love relationships between homosexuals’ is based dealt with through already existing civil pact, a limited legal form of recognition of partnership, which the Rabbi says can be expanded, for example in terms of inheritance.
Bernheim also opposed granting any adoption rights to LGBT couples, which is a key component of the proposed marriage equality bill.
He said this is because a ’child develops through differentiating… It needs, therefore, to know that it comes from love and union between a man, his father, and a wife, his mother, as a result of the sexual difference between the parents’.
The Rabbi then added that gay couples can be involved in bringing up children without legal recognition as a ‘third party’.
‘Finally,’ he said, ‘I would add that my biblical worldview, where justice plays a principle and naturally central role, leads me to condemn and fight forcefully verbal and physical abuse suffered by gay people, just as I condemn and fight forcefully racist and anti-Semitic acts’.
Government ministers are expected to approve a draft law authorising marriage equality on 31 October.
Officials have repeatedly said the legislation will also include provision for married gay couples to adopt children.
Recent polls show that over two thirds of the French public support marriage equality.
However the legislation faces strong criticism from conservative, right-wing politicians as well as religious figures.
More than 1,200 French mayors or deputy mayors have signed a petition opposing the government’s plans and senior figures in the Catholic Church have voiced fierce opposition.
Pope Benedict XVI last month urged French bishops to oppose the bill and ‘defend marriage’ as the ‘foundation of social life’.
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, sparked outrage last month when he said legalising same-sex marriage could lead to ‘polygamy and incest’.