20 April 2012
by Pauline Malmqvist
This Sunday 22nd April french voter will choose between 10 presidential candidates. The polls are currently giving the socialist Francois Hollande and the right-wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy winner of the first round. Out of the ten candidates three of them are women: the extreme left-wing candidate Nathalie Arthaud, the green party candidate Eva Joly and the extreme right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen. However, according to the polls none of them will be present for the second round.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans topic has not, as often, been considered as an important societal issue. During this campaign candidates used the fear of the other The association Sos Homophobie in its annual report of 2011, shows that there the last few years, the number of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender has increased. Compared to year 2010 there is 18% more testimonies. Since last year, internet has been the first play where homophobic discrimination takes place. Assaults in public places has increased 43% between 2009 and 2010. However, these numbers are only the tip of the iceberg. They represents the number of cases identified and reported and not all other victims. The fact that there is still discrimination based on your sexual orientation should remind us on the importance of the next presidential elections. It is the opportunity to make mentalities change.
In the context of the presidential election this same association submitted to the candidates twelve questions on equal rights, the fight against discrimination related to sexual orientation and gender identity. Each party answered to the questions, which shows an effort to take in consideration the LGBT’s rights. Anyhow, the results of the questions shows us that all political parties are not willing to do much more effort. As usual, there is a strong contrast between the left and right parties. None of the right-wing parties are open to same-sex marriage and equality in access to parenthood. On the other hand, all left-wing parties are in favor of equal rights between heterosexual and homosexual people. There is just one question on which they all agree on, which is to help and support people victim of homophobia.
It seems hard, if not even impossible, to fight homophobia if the States doesn’t give the right message to the people. A start would be to give equal rights to everyone. By refusing to give homosexuals the same right of marriage and parenting it puts them in a different category. The heterosexuals are considered better, more worthy. This creates and encourages discrimination based on sexual orientation. Nonetheless, these issues are not considered as essential in the campaign. Even though all the parties have expressed more or less their opinion, only few plans on actually realizing it. Four candidates, the socialist Francois Hollande, the left-candidate of Front de Gauche Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the anti-capitalistic Philippe Poutou and the green candidate Eva Joly wants to give same marriage rights for all couples. The centrist candidate, Francois Bayrou, agrees with them concerning equal parent rights for everyone. The other candidates say they only agree to give same-sex couples the right to a civil union which would be comparable to the marriage. That is still discriminatory towards LGBT people.
With the eleven other questions the candidates continue to draw the difference between the left- and right-wing parties. One question concerned the blood donation. In France, if a man has had once a sexual intercourse with an other man it is enough for lifetime ban on blood donation. This to prevent the risk of HIV contamination. The green candidate Eva Joly and anti-capitalistic candidate Philippe Poutou are both saying that the selection should not be based on prejudice, but on real medical facts. Nicolas Sarkozy talks about only refusing it to people who have had sex in less that a year. Marine Le Pen expresses herself all against. Once again, refusing blood donation from gay people because of the “risk factor” reinforces a negative image of gay people assimilated to sickness.
The conclusion of these twelve question is that the difference between left and right is more than ever accurate when talking about minorities issues. Only the left-wing leader of Le Front de Gauche: Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the green leader of Europe Ecologie : Eva Joly answered positively on 11 out of the 12 questions. The Green party represented by Eva Joly is already, since 2001, the first political party to have claimed the recognition of LGBT parents/families and equal rights with different sex families. Already then they also suggested the right for adoption for same-sex couples. In contrast to them, Marine Le Pen answered negatively to all questions except one, which concerns assistance to young people victim of homophobic attacks.
For the french people, who takes the gay issues into account for the elections, have suddenly narrowed their choice. Even though some of the right-wing candidates promises changes, it is not one of their main issues. Nicolas Sarkozy, when elected in 2007, promised to give more financial rights to gay couples, nothing ever happened.
With only a couple of days left before the first round of the French presidential election, the polls estimates the socialist Francois Hollande and the right-wing leader Nicolas Sarkozy winners. The first one suggests, in addition to the equal rights, a ministry of women’s right conducted by a women. This in order to reduce the gaps between men and women in the society.
Which is not so much of a surprise. What is surprising, on the other hand, is the great popularity of Marine Le Pen, who is estimated to have around 15%. She is representing the extreme right-wing party: Le Front National. This party collects the people’s fear and then distributes a message of hate and discrimination. What is frightening is the normalization process that goes along the fact that this party is fighting for the third place at the elections. More and more people identifies to what the party represents and says. More and more people therefore convey this message of hatred.
This years campaign feels like it only started three weeks ago. And even since then, there haven’t occurred any debates (that because the top runners wanted to wait for the second round). When it concerns social issues it seems like it is always the same. The left-wing parties puts the focus on these issues, while the right-wing parties knows their existence but does not put a priority on solving them.