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Sex change case tests France's gay marriage ban

A French citizen who changed sex to become a woman but stayed with her wife of 15 years and their children is seeking legal recognition for her altered status, in a case that could reopen debate over France's ban on same-sex marriage.
/ Source: Reuters

A French citizen who changed sex to become a woman but stayed with her wife of 15 years and their children is seeking legal recognition for her altered status, in a case that could reopen debate over France's ban on same-sex marriage.

Wilfrid Avrillon, a 41-year-old computer engineer, became Chloe Avrillon after a sex switch operation five years ago and still lives with wife Marie-Jeanne, a lesbian, and their three children in the west of France.

Avrillon presented her case to court officials in a closed-door hearing on Thursday and is now waiting for a ruling in mid-December, her lawyer said.

"We've been waiting for years for recognition of families like ours, which may be atypical but work well," Chloe Avrillon told reporters.

France's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages was upheld by the country's highest constitutional authority last January in a case brought by two women.

Avrillon's case is different to the extent that the wedding preceded the sex change.

Lawyer Emmanuel Ludot said judicial officials had raised no objections during Thursday's hearing to his client's request that her change of sex from male to female be recognized, and not suggested their marriage be nullified as a consequence.

The ruling conservatives are set against gay marriage, but Socialist Francois Hollande, who opinion polls show could defeat President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's presidential election, favors changing to law to make it legal.