PARIS — A complaint brought by a Catholic group against a dating site that promotes extramarital affairs was thrown out by a French court last week.
The suit was dismissed after a Paris court determined that the National Confederation of Catholic Family Associations could not file the complaint, since infidelity complaints can only be filed within a private marital relationship, and because an affair does not always constitute a civil violation, according to reports from the AP.
The website, Gleeden, advertises itself as “The first extramarital dating site made by women,” with a logo featuring a half-eaten apple referencing the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Launched in 2009, the website claims to be a world leader in coordinating extramarital affairs, with a million users in France and 2.4 million throughout the world.
Catholic Family Associations first filed a legal complaint against the site’s U.S. based publisher, Black Divine, in a Paris court in February 2015. The group said the advertisements for the site were crude and immoral and constituted a breach of an article in French civil code.
While adultery was decriminalized in France in 1975, article 212 of the French Civil Code states, “Married partners owe each other the duty of respect, fidelity, help and assistance.” Many family lawyers believed the suit would succeed for this reason.
Despite France’s secularism and typical laissez faire attitude towards sexual mores, Gleeden scandalized many with the release of its public advertisements in 2015, highlighting a cultural divide within the country. Several towns and bus companies opted to remove the advertisements after receiving numerous complaints.
“There are plenty of other websites out there which promote sexual contact between individuals, but what makes Gleeden different is that its very business model is based on marital infidelity,” Jean-Marie Andres, president of the Association of Catholic Families, told the BBC in 2015.
“It states quite openly that its purpose is to offer married women opportunities to have sex outside the marriage,” she said.
“But here in France, people and parliament are all in agreement that marriage is a public commitment. It’s in the law. What we are trying to do with our suit is show that the civil code – the law – has meaning.”
Gleeden argued in the case that it was merely facilitating affairs, and that the demand for them already existed.
A spokesperson for Catholic Family Associations told the AP that the group had not yet decided whether it would appeal the decision.