France is at the very cusp of joining Uruguay and New Zealand in passing same-sex marriage legislation. In France, the move has sparked a lot of rancor and a great deal of homophobia, and that has lead to a spike of homophobic attacks.
French President Francois Hollande denounced the attacks stating “Homophobic acts, violent acts have been committed. The right to protest is recognized by our constitution and accepted by the French. But no protest must degenerate.”
Marriage equality has strong support among the people of France, but the anti-gay movement has been not only vocal, but violent. On Wednesday, several thousand protesters too t the streets. Whle there, they damaged cars and public property and attacked police officers and journalists.
In Lille, France, three employees of a gay bar were insulted and injured and the bar’s owner was hit by a chair when four men attacked the bar and smashed its windows. The owner blamed it on the tensions coming from the parliamentary vote. Suspects have been arrested in that incident.
This past Monday, 70 anti-gay protesters were arrested for attempting to set up a camp site outside the National Assembly.
The bill has already passed in both chambers of Parliament. Next week, there will be a vote to finalize certain technicalities and address minor amendments. Still, opponents are threatening to carry out their reign of terror until the law is withdrawn.
Marriage equality is a contentious subject with the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups often using unscientific hate language in order to attack LGBT peoples.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls condemned the acts of violence perpetrated during the protests noting that they happened despite promises made by the organizers. While introducing the bill for its second reading, Justice Minister Christiane Taubria criticized the “spouters of hatred” who opposed the bill in such a violent way, and stated “This bill takes nothing away from them – there is more than one way to live as a couple or as a family.”
Many protesters are demanding a California Prop 8 style referendum on the bill, something that the French government is opposed to given the rancor and hatred that has been spewed just in these debates.
As if to exemplify this, UMP member Philippe Cochet stated “What you are doing is (opening) a breach that will not close if this legal text passes through, it’s an ignominy. . .You are killing children.” The uproar was so bad that the Speaker of the House had to interrupt the session. Cochet later said that the term was inappropriate, but would not back down from his stance that same-sex marriage harms children despite evidence to the contrary.