Page last updated at 17:05 GMT, Friday, 30 May 2008 18:05 UK

Row over French bogus virgin case

By Emma Jane Kirby
BBC News, Paris

French justice ministry, file pic
The justice ministry said the ruling was about dishonesty, not religion

France's ruling UMP party has opposed a French court's decision to annul a marriage between two Muslims because the wife lied about being a virgin.

The Lille court's decision has also angered feminists who say it amounts to a fatwa against women's liberty.

The court granted the man's request for an annulment after ruling that he had been tricked into a marriage.

His partner's virginity was a determining factor in his decision to wed her, it ruled.

Feminists angered

It is understood that the husband, an engineer in his thirties, married the trainee nurse in the summer of 2006, having been assured by her that she had never previously had a boyfriend.

The Conservative UMP party - which is calling on the Justice Minister to overturn the ruling - said the decision was totally unacceptable and was incompatible with France's secular principles.

But a justice ministry spokesman insisted the court's decision was not based on religion or morality but on the French civil code under which a marriage can be annulled if a spouse has lied about an "essential quality" of the relationship.

Feminist groups said they were ashamed to see the ruling adding it would allow men legally to reject women on the grounds they were not virgins.

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