A gay police officer killed by a gunman in Paris was married in a posthumous wedding that’s believed to be a historic first.
Xavier Jugelé, 37, was shot dead April 20 on the Champs-Élysées three days before the French presidential election. The Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack, which left two other officers wounded. The gunman, identified as Karim Cheurfi, was shot dead by security forces.
Though details of Wednesday’s nuptials are scarce, Etienne Cardiles married Jugelé in a ceremony attended by former French president François Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, The Guardian reports. It’s believed to be the first posthumous same-sex wedding to take place in France (where marriage equality has been the law of the land since 2013) and possibly the world, according to the BBC.
The U.S. does not recognize posthumous matrimony under federal law, but its origins in France can be traced back to 1803. The practice became particularly popular during World War I, when it allowed women to wed slain soldiers, thus legitimizing any children conceived beforehand and entitling them to a pension.
France’s current legislation allowing people to marry the dead dates back to 1959, when a woman named Irène Jodard requested permission from former French President Charles de Gaulle to wed her fiancé, André Capra, after he had drowned. Hundreds of people have since applied for post-mortem matrimony under the law, which requires applicants to send a formal request to the president, according to The New York Times.
Cardiles made global headlines when he delivered an impassioned eulogy at an April 26 memorial service for Jugelé. His longtime partner had also been deployed during the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m suffering without hate,” Cardiles said in the speech, which was transcribed by Time magazine. “This hate, Xavier, I don’t have it because it never existed in you… Because tolerance, dialogue and temperance were your best weapons. Because behind the policeman there was the man. Because you become a policeman by choice; the choice to help others and to fight against injustice.”
An associate described Jugelé as having been “really committed” to queer causes. Mickaël Bucheron, who is the president of Flag, a French association for LGBTQ police officers, said Jugelé had been active with the group for several years. “He protested with us when there was the homosexual propaganda ban at the Sochi Olympic Games,” Bucheron told The New York Times.