October 19, 2012

IconHeated debate about gay marriage in France postpones its legalization

“Marriage is contracted by two people of opposite sex or by two people of same sex” stipulates the proposition of law opening marriage and parenthood to LGBT people, initially planned to be examined by the French Ministers on the 31st of October 2012. However, the debate is currently so heated in all the spheres of society that it is postponed to the end of January, sparing some time for ‘consultations’.

Contestation is growing

The opening of marriage to gay couples creates an unprecedented debate, even more passionate and radical than the one around the Civil Partnership (PACS) in 1999. The closer France gets to the actual examination of the proposition of law at the Assemblée Nationale – the equivalent of the Parliament – the more divided the society and the political parties are becoming. The detractors of the proposition of law blame it for being responsible of the division of society, and the public opinion is quite floating now that things are about to be official.

Even tough the public opinion is mostly favorable to the gay marriage, the question of homo-parenthood remains problematic and is slowing down the process. A recent survey shows that the percentage of French citizens favorable to the gay adoption has dropped from 58% to 53% since last year.

In the political parties, an interesting fact is that disagreements are not taking the traditional right/left  or conservative/progressive form. France is facing strong internal division of opinion within the political parties themselves about marriage and especially the Medically Assisted Procreation (MAP). The rightist party UMP (Nicolas Sarkozy’s party) encompasses the widest range of opinions and its members have been showing apprehension regarding the debate to come.


Civil Disobedience

Certain mayors have already stated that they won’t proceed to the celebration of gay marriages. The mayor of the 8th district in Paris, François Lebel, created a wave of shock when he declared in the local press that he would refuse to celebrate gay marriages because their legalization would open the way to incest, pedophilia and polygamy. The parallel between gay marriage and polygamy has been recurrent in the last weeks and remains one of the favorites counter-arguments of the conservative sides. Some mayors therefore invited their fellows to ‘civil disobedience’ in sign of protest, although they would break the law by refusing to marry two people under the only reason that they are of the same sex. This minority of resistant mayors is asking for the creation of a ‘conscience clause’ to reevaluate the consequences of gay marriage and homo-parenthood upon society in the generations to come.


“Would you leave children in these people’s care?”


Gay Marriage Campaign

'Today, gay marriage. Tomorrow, polygamy. STOP!'

The catholic organization Civitas launched in September 2012 a 100,000 euros anti-gay marriage campaign, distributing flyers, stickers and posters in public places. They show a picture of two half-naked men parading at the Gay Pride with the slogan: ‘Would you leave children in these people’s care?’ (see photo on the home page). Civitas aims to bring together 100,000 people demonstrating in front of the Ministry of Family in Paris on the 18th of November 2012 in order to convince the government to withdraw the proposition of law. Civitas is targeting the mainstream people to ‘re-inform the public opinion’.  Their speech and their campaign is somewhat alarmist and caricatural, announcing the programmed end of our civilization and highlighting the ‘risk’ for gay parents to bring up gay kids.


The core issues : Adoption and Medically Assisted Procreation (MAP)

If the leftist parties are overall pro-marriage, their opinion varies about adoption and MAP. Adoption is likely to be legalized at the same time as marriage, but gay couples will have to face the fact that many foreign countries including China and Russia won’t let children be adopted by same-sex parents. It will however give the chance to non-biological parents who are already in a homo-family to officially adopt their kids.

President François Hollande promised access to the MAP for lesbian couples during his campaign, before withdrawing it from the text of law to be voted. The MAP is legal in France for straight couples and represents about 20,000 births every year, but female couples have to go to Belgium or Spain to have recourse to it. Therefore, this practice already exists for LGBT people, it is simply ignored by the government. Access to MAP still receives a negative response in the public opinion and in the rightist parties. Last Friday, the 12th of October 2012, the Socialist Bruno Le Roux, head of the deputies, promised to add an amendment to the proposition of law aiming to discuss the legalization of MAP, asserting his opposition to the Prime Minister. A step forward?




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