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The French government is blocking a lesbian couple from giving their baby boy the name they chose for him because it’s “a girl’s name.”
In January, Alice Gondelle and her partner gave birth to a healthy son, whom they decided to name Ambre, the French version of Amber. But when they went to register little Ambre, the registrar reported them to the local prosecutor, who decided his name risked “confusing the child about its gender in a way that could be harmful” later in life.
Gondelle and her wife challenged his decision and while they initially won the case, was appealed. It’s now sitting in limbo until their court date in April 2019.
The legal proceedings could drag on, and Gondelle insists it would be cruel to give her son a new name when he was already 2 years old. She says she’s heard of more than 35 French men named Ambre. “Society is very unfair, it lets ridiculous first names pass,” she told France Bleu.
The government in France has a reputation for playing name police when it comes to baby monikers: Until 1993, parents were expected to choose names from a list of acceptable “prenoms” (first names) outlined by the government. Prime Minister François Mitterrand scrapped the name list, but courts can still reject a name if they feel it isn’t in a child’s best interests.
Earlier this year, another couple was not allowed to name their daughter “Liam” over similar concerns about “confusing the child.”
It’s not just a fear of gender confusion that gets a name banned, though: Traditional Breton names are often rejected because many have characters that do not exist in the French language: Last September a couple from Brittany, where Gondelle and her family also live, were prohibited from using the name “Fañch.”
Other names turned down by authorities include “Nutella” and “Manhattan.”