Monday, 14 January 2013

FRANCE: ''Anti-Gay-Marriage Protests'' Are French Homophobic?

France has long valued its openness, tolerance and the quality of services available for all.
Seeing itself as an inclusive nation with universal values, France has always valued and strongly advocated gay rights. However, the success of such conventional openness has recently been called into question when it comes to extend the right of adoption to same-sex couples.

Hundreds of thousands of protestors took to the streets of the French capital, Paris, on Sunday to demonstrate agaisnt a proposed law to allow gay marriage adoption. Organizers claimed that protest reached 1.4 million people, while police stated that the demonstrators numbered 300,000.

The expansion of marriage rights as well as the right to adoption by the same sex couples was among the election promises of the Socialist President Francois Hollande. The draft law was approved in md -January by the French National Assembly. The senate will be in consultations over the proposal starting in April. But opposition to the draft law comes primarily from the Catholic Church and the conservative opposition.

A massive demonstration against same sex marriage in January also attracted hundreds of thousands, but yesterday ''manif pour tous'' was intended to force a ''referendum'' on the proposed law to allow gay marriage adoption.

Civil solidarity pacts (PACS), a form of registered domestic partnership, were enacted in 1999 for both same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex couples by the government of Lionel Jospin. Couples who enter into a PACS contract are afforded most of the legal protections, rights, and responsibilities of marriage. But the right to joint adoption and artificial insemination are denied to PACS partners.

France's Socialist government is planning to change the law this year.

During his campaign for French presidential election 2012, Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande declared he supports same-sex marriage and adoption for LGBT couples, and has plans to pursue the issue in early 2013 if he won. And he did win..

On June 14, 2011, the France National Assemby voted 293–222 against legalizing same-sex marriage. Deputies of the majority party Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) voted mostly against the measure, while deputies of the Socialist Party mostly voted in  favor.

On May 7, 2012, Hollande won the election. Sometime in October, the Adoption And Marriage Equality Legislation Bill 2012 was introduced by the French government, which was approved by the French National Assembly in mid-January. The bill divides French, since then.

Despite the support of the Church and political right, the organizers were keen to stress their movement was non-political and non-religious, and in no way directed against homosexuals. Regardless of the extent of yesterday '' Demos for all'', the government reaffirms that it would keep the bill but excludes any possibility of a referendum.

French are not homophobic at all. Recent polls show the majority of French people support gay marriage, though not the right for homosexual couples to adopt.

A large majority of French people (58%) currently favor gay marriage. But it's also true that the French were even more in favor of same-sex unions back in 2011, when 63% favored gay marriage, and 52% gay adoption, now to 48%. How can we explain this change of heart?

The ongoing debate is no longer for same-sex marriage. But the right of adoption for same-sex couples, which does not seem to go down well with  the majority of french, anymore.  This change of heart comes from anti-gay rhetoric of reactionary politicians and the church. Anti-gay activists and elected officials from both sides of the political spectrum routinely compare the "sins" of same-sex marriage to polygamy, or even incest.

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Political Analyst/Writer
Investigative Journalist

Photo-Credit: AFP