France is set to ban the words "mother" and "father" from all official documents under controversial plans to legalise gay marriage.
France's Justice Minister Christiane Taubira Photo: Reuters
(The Telegraph) The move, which has outraged Catholics, means only the word "parents" would be used in identical marriage ceremonies for all heterosexual and same-sex couples.
The draft law states that "marriage is a union of two people, of different or the same gender".
It says all references to "mothers and fathers" in the civil code – which enshrines French law – will be swapped for simply "parents".
The law would also give equal adoption rights to homosexual and heterosexual couples.
Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told France's Catholic newspaper La Croix: "Who is to say that a heterosexual couple will bring a child up better than a homosexual couple, that they will guarantee the best conditions for the child's development?"
"What is certain is that the interest of the child is a major preoccupation for the government."
The head of the French Catholic Church Cardinal Philippe Barbarin warned followers last week that gay marriage could lead to legalised incest and polygamy in society.
He told the Christian's RFC radio station: "Gay marriage would herald a complete breakdown in society.
"This could have innumerable consequences. Afterward they will want to create couples with three or four members. And after that, perhaps one day the taboo of incest will fall."
Leading French Catholics have also published a 'Prayer for France', which says: "Children should not be subjected to adults' desires and conflicts, so they can fully benefit from the love of their mother and father."
And Pope Benedict XVI invited 30 French bishops to Italy to urge them to fight against the new law.
He told them: "We have there a true challenge to take on.
"The family that is the foundation of social life is threatened in many places, following a concept of human nature that has proven defective."
President Francois Hollande pledged in his manifesto to legalise gay marriage. The draft law will be presented to his cabinet for approval on October 31.