Tag Archives: Homophobia

‘Against’ Homosexuality: The political battle across France


FRANCE HAS A long tradition of social movements. Strikes and demonstrations are such a common thing that French protesting generally does not bring surprise to the world. On October 7, 2014, huge demonstrations were held in Paris and Bordeaux with unconventional participants. Contra the typical ‘fight for your rights’ motivation of most protests, participants marched against guaranteed rights for homosexual couples, legislated in May 2013.

From Mariage pour tous to Manif’ pour tous

Small historical reminder: In May 2012 and in France, the socialist candidate Francois Hollande becomes the new President of the Republic. Among his promises, the legalisation of the wedding for homosexual people (it is the ‘mariage pour tous’ marriage for all) as well as the possibility for homosexual couples to adopt. One legal option was previously available for them: PACS (Civil Pact of Solidarity), a contract which creates mutual rights and obligations for couples but does not give a legal security as strong as the marriage, especially in areas concerning family and inheritance.

Christiane Taubira, Minister of Justice, is asked with preparing this bill to be discussed in The Parliament. Even if this promise was in the official program of the socialist candidate – that allowed him to be elected-, a certain part of the population does not agree with it and is getting ready to make some noise. A collective of 37 associations, mostly Christians but some also targeting the defence of child’s rights and families or political, called for massive demonstrations across France from November 2012. This movement, now named « Manif’ pour tous » (Demonstration for All) – to remind, if we need it, why they are fighting for- claims to had managed to gather around 500 000 to 1 million participants from the beginning of their actions according to the movement to shout that they do not want neither gay marriage couples neither its associated rights of adoption. Encouraging citizens to protest loudly and organizing journeys from all the French cities to join them in Paris by chartered buses or train deals.

Logo_La_Manif_pour_tous

Over the course of 2013, several large demonstrations succeeded in France, interrupted of scandals and criticism. In March 2013, Beatrice Bourges, one of the figures of the movement is excluded from Manif’ pour Tous when a part of demonstrators broke prefectural rules to protest onto Champs Elysées to face policemen. This mark the official separation of the Manif’ pour Tous with another movement called French Spring, with reference to the Arabic Spring.

It’s soon the turn of Frigide Barjot, a leading media spokeswoman for the Movement who is then pushed out following claims that she is not in line anymore with the movement’s positions- too lenient with the law that had just been promulgated. Plus, happened some homophobic skids that occurred during the demonstrations, without forgetting some violent talks of the catholic association CIVITAS – often considered as fundamentalist- which joined the demonstrations, but had finally been excluded by the collective.

Manif ‘pour Tous has also been criticized for the involment of children during the protests, not only bringing them to demonstrate but also placing them at the front of the group, looking similar as a shield against the police. Some mark the irony of an organization fighting to prevent the children’s rights by same-sex parents instrumentalizing their own in such a way.

Finally, some politics have accused the Manif’ pour Tous to legitimate homophobic speeches and acts.

And after the promulgation…

What does the law say?

The law allows same-sex couples to get married, and adopt. Marriage creates mutual obligations but also advantages and security for each married. It does not say a word about surrogacy, still forbidden in France for any couple. This law leads to equal rights for both homosexual and heterosexual couples. Since the law is passed in May 2013 and accepted by the Constitutional Council, the Manif’ pour Tous has not weakened as noticed with the recent demonstration in October 2014, with a number of participants estimated between 500 000 according to the movement and 70 000 for the Police. A victory for the participants who not only want to pressure François Hollande and his team, but also send a signal for the next political elections in France. They want to be heard. And still the same message: the French family is in danger.

On what do they based their claim? Sacrilege of the wedding, of “natural”conception and of children’s rights that would be in danger – in other words to preserve the ‘traditional family.’

They won’t give up, and they are encouraged by their successful demonstrations. This time, it’s for two things, according to the official website of the movement. First, the abrogation of the Taubira Law – which would create insecurity for the 7000 couples already married in 2013. Second, to manifest their aversion to the surrogacy of whom government has already said that the legalisation is not discussed in France, and the Assisted Reproductive Technology for homosexual couples- which is not allowed as well.

A few widespread factors explain Manif’ pour Tous’ success in France: a certain Christian heritage, conservative mind-set, a tradition of going down in the streets to protest, and a rejection of the socialist policy of Francois Hollande.If you make a detour by their website, you will notice that they do not only denounce Taubira’s law but interfere now with the politics in general- as you can see with their article against the end of the universal amount of family allowance (the government wants to reduce the amount for the richest families). Thus, It is becoming a real political movement with opinions on political French affairs and laws, trying to gain head on the moral issues of the time, based on the defence of traditional Family and conservative values.

These demonstrations have revealed a split between the French population, and a stron conservative mind still existing in the French society. This law may be a new start for future generations to not be questioned anymore about it. At the dawn of 2015, the battle for equal rights for homosexual couples in France is not over yet and Manif’ pour Tous leads as the symbol of a movement that does not accept a changing France.

Written by Pauline Sani
Image credits: wikipedia and huffington post (creative commons)

Homophobic terror attack ahead of wedding


TO MANY PEOPLE, 11th September is a date rife with memories of terror, violence and fire; 24 year old Solange Ramires and 26 year old Sabriny Benites never expected, however, those feelings would become so personal.

The two were to be wed in a local Gaucho Traditions Center (CTG) in Santana do Livramento on the 13th, along with 27 other couples. However, at four a.m on the 11th, the so eagerly expected marriage was threatened when the CTG was set ablaze by molotov cocktails, in what has been called a terror attack.

The attack was not random: a month earlier, when news of the wedding first came out on the small Rio Grande do Sul city, both the local judge – Carine Labres – and the head of the CTG – city representative Gilberto “Xepa” Gisler –  received death threats over the “immorality”.

Following this were, sadly fulfilled,  threats of arson. According to Gisler, an anonymous caller said “there was no way” the wedding was to happen – even if they had to “beat the crap out of this so called ‘Xepa’, get rid of the judge and set the CTG on fire”.

To the police, the fire was a deliberate attack. To Brazil’s Human Rights minister, Ideli Salvatti, this arson is another reason why the country urgently needs to criminalize homophobia.

According to eyewitness reports, after Gisler left the center early on the 11th, four men left a nearby bar in a white car, and lobbed in what the police believes were molotov cocktails.The attack started two localized fires, one of them in the main hall which was completely destroyed.

While locals started rebuilding the center on the following day, in preparation for the ceremony, the collective wedding had to be moved to the local courthouse. It happened without further incidents.

However, the whole affair caused a great deal of debate in social media and the Rio Grande do Sul press. Many – including Zero Hora columnist David Coimbra – took the position that the true offenders were the judge and the two women; according to that mindset, they were “offending tradition” and “provoking hostility” to the point that “defenders of such traditions felt more comfortable torching the CTG than seeing it hosting a gay wedding”.

Others claimed minorities should “know their place” – which according to online comments, doesn’t include CTGs, churches, courthouses, stadiums or the state of Rio Grande do Sul – and that the judge should be “relieved of duty” for supporting gay rights. On the 12th, Judge Labres requested a fake Facebook profile of herself be taken down – the online profile was being used to malign and defame her.

About the intimidation, she was succinct: “we won’t be shut down, the rights of minorities are guaranteed”.

Others were supportive of the wedding – including many in the same newspaper, Zero Hora. Adriana Franciosi, another ZH writer, noted that –  in the ‘name of tradition’ –  black people were forbidden to enter many CTGs until 1988. By claiming that marrying two women in the CTG “attacks tradition”, she claims,  Coimbra is at the same time defending social conservatism.

“If we followed David’s logic”, she said in a open Facebook status “women would still be confined to the kitchen and the household. After all, why work and be independent? As puts David, why cause trouble?”.

Written by Pedro Leal
Photo Credit: Rodrigo_Soldon