French Same-Sex Couple Barred From Naming Male Child 'Amber'

What's In a Name? French Couple Banned From Naming Child "Girl's Name"

A female same-sex couple were barred from naming their son Amber — or Ambre in French. 

The name, which was flagged by the couple's local registrar in the town of Lorient in Brittany, was banned by a prosecutor because Ambre "was usually a girl’s name" and "the risk of confusion over the child’s sex might prove damaging to him," The Telegraph reports.

When the case went to court, the judge disagreed with the prosecutor's argument and found no reason to change it. But the prosecutor called for an appeal of the decision. As a result, the case is set for another hearing next April. Until then, the future of the child's name remains in limbo. 

The mothers are questioning if homophobia might be playing a factor in the ban. One of the boy’s mothers, Alice Gondelle, told France Blue that she believes herself to be a "victim of hate" at the hands of the prosecutor.

"Society is very unfair,” said Gondelle. “It allows ridiculous first names like ‘Clitorine.’ I wonder why it is that with a name as classic and old [as Ambre] can’t get through and it is the state that is attacking us in the courts?"

Amber — a common name for girls in the English-speaking world — is seen less frequently in France. Although it is generally considered a feminine name, Gondelle noted in a Facebook post that she knew of 37 male Ambres in the European country.

This is not the first time France has banned a name for potentially causing "gender confusion." In March, another couple in Brittany were stopped from naming their daughter Liam under similar circumstances. 

In France, parents are free to choose the names of their children — as long as the name is not "contrary to the interests of the child," notes The New York Times

Since a law on this issue was passed in 1993 (prior to that year, parents had to choose from a list of names preapproved by the French government in a precedent begun by Napoleon Bonaparte), courts have stepped in to ban names like Nutella, Manhattan, MJ, and even Babar for a baby girl.

In their reasoning for various bans, judges have argued that a name is not Gallic enough, a name is old-fashioned, or the name would "create difficulties and actual embarrassment for the child," reports The Local, an English-language publication in France. Even spellings and accented letters can be the subject of scrutiny if they deviate too far from the norm.

See Gondelle's Facebook post, which is written like a letter from Ambre, below.

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