In a blow for France’s LGBT community, the country’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage is not unconstitutional.

The court’s eight judges said on Friday that the issue should be left up to parliament which is free to draft laws to legalise same-sex marriage if it wishes to do so.

The country’s definition of marriage as being only between a man and woman was challenged by two women, Corinne Cestino and Sophie Hasslauer, who have four children and have been together for 15 years.

While registered as civil partners they are still not entitled to all the benefits granted to married heterosexual couples.

“It is not so much about getting married but about having the right to get married. So, that is what we are asking for: just to be able, like anyone else, to choose to get married or not,” Cestino told the Associated Press news agency.

A recent poll found that 58% of French people were in favour of full marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Only nine countries in the world – Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa and Spain – have thus far legalised same-sex marriage.

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