June 19, 2008 / 5:07 PM / 11 years ago

French court suspends virgin marriage annulment

DOUAI, France (Reuters) - A French court overturned an order annulling the marriage of a Muslim woman accused of lying about being a virgin on Thursday, pending a ruling on appeal expected in September.

The decision adds a further twist to a case that has caused legal confusion and controversy in France.

The marriage was originally annulled last month after a court ruled that the woman had lied over what is called in French law an “essential quality”, in this case her virginity. It ruled that the marriage contract was therefore invalid.

That ruling was greeted with outrage by feminists and human rights activists shocked that virginity could be considered an “essential quality”. Some politicians said they were worried that conservative Muslim values were creeping into French law.

The public prosecutor, acting under instructions from the justice ministry, appealed against the ruling, despite objections from the woman in the case, who wanted the marriage to be ended.

Thursday’s ruling means that the marriage is once again in force until the appeal court rules on Sept. 22. The appeals court could decide that the annulment order should not stand and force the couple to seek a divorce.

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