A French dating site has found itself in hot water after it appeared to be targeting married people and encouraging them to cheat on their partners. The French courts will now need to decide if the company has broken the law by encouraging infidelity.
The site is accused of promoting adultery and in a country where fidelity between husband and wife is written into civil law. Some could argue that Gleeden, the casual dating site in question, is difficult to defend as it promotes itself as a world class “extra-conjugal site conceived for married women,” and it is that specification that is causing the controversy.
The legal action has been brought by the Association of Catholic Families (ACF) who were offended by a recent provocative advertising campaign seen on the French public transport system. Rather than complain simply about the advertising standards, the ACF has taken the bigger step of protesting against the legality of the business itself.
The ACF’s objection focuses on Gleeden’s business model of offering sex to married women. They want to see the Civil Code’s Article 212 enforced so that once married, people owe their spouse respect and fidelity; it is a commitment that should be taken seriously as it is the law.
French law is written in various codes which can be amended by parliament and are open to some interpretation by judges, though they have far less room to manoeuvre than they would in other common law systems, such as the one in place in the UK.
Other sites offering ‘no strings’ sex exist, such as Forget Dinner www.forgetdinner.co.uk though perhaps do not flaunt it in the same way as Gleeden, who target married women as their USP. One such poster in the controversial campaign depicts a bride with her fingers crossed behind her back, indicating she doesn’t take her vows to mean anything and they somehow don’t count because of this gesture.
In a further temptation to women, they do not pay for Gleeden registration. The site has grown at a phenomenal rate; 2.3 million users across Europe since inception in 2009 (almost half those members are in France).
Some users argue that the very reason sites like Gleeden are so popular is precisely because they target married people, and that infidelity would exist whether or not this type of business does. By targeting married people, some users feel the deception is less because both parties know where they stand and there are no complicated feelings to get in the way.
In light of recent terror attacks such as the one at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, there is perhaps a bigger issue around how religion is encroaching on public life, and fundamentalism is seemingly growing in some quarters. Ultimately, it will be up to the courts to decide the outcome of this most divisive case.