A French mayor is challenging the country’s new marriage equality law by refusing to officiate same-sex marriages. According to Jean-Michel Colo, mayor of Arcangues, marriage equality is a “big lie” that he won’t participate in:
COLO: When people close the door at home, they do what they want. For me, marriage is for a woman and man to have children. I am not discriminating as a same-sex couple is sterile. It’s a parody of equality, it’s a big lie.
Unfortunately for Colo, he does not determine the nation’s laws, which now grant same-sex couples the right to a marriage license. As an elected official, it is his obligation to avail them of that right. According to Interior Minister Manuel Valls, he could face “significant sanctions” for refusing to obey the law, including up to three years in jail and a €45,000 fine. The Committee to Defend Gay Rights has promised to report Colo for discrimination if he follows through on his protest of the law.
Russian activist Nikolai Alekseev being punched by a counter-protester while in police custody.
A number of demonstrations across the globe this weekend led to violence perpetrated by those opposed to LGBT equality.
In Ukraine, about 100 gay rights activists held the country’s first ever pride rally in Kiev, even though a court had canceled it for security concerns. Police nonetheless protected the small rally, arresting 13 Orthodox Christians who tried to break up the march. One activist broke through the cordon and tried to slap down the gay rights banners, but was quickly seized by police. Though not a very large display, it was still a milestone for LGBT people in Ukraine, where lawmakers have tried to ban “pro-gay propaganda.”
Police did less to protect LGBT activists who marched in Moscow despite being denied a permit to do so. Over 30 activists were arrested, and police did little to protect them from the violence of Orthodox Christian counter-protesters, even when they were in custody. The above photo shows activist Nikolai Alekseev being punched in the face while already under arrest — he was unable to defend himself and police did not intervene. More photos of the demonstrations, violence, and arrests can be found at Metro News Russia and Sky News.
As they promised, opponents of marriage equality held another — and presumably final — march this weekend in Paris, with some 150,000 protesting the passage of the new law on Sunday. The otherwise peaceful anti-gay protest turned violent when hundreds of extreme conservatives began attacking police and journalists by throwing metal barriers, smoke flares, and beer bottles. Others used to ladders to scale the roof of the Socialist Party headquarters, unfurling a banner calling on President François Hollande to resign.
Watch a video of French police responding to violent protesters with tear gas (HT: Joe.My.God.):
The National Organization for Marriage released a press release Tuesday afternoon — seemingly hours after France’s National Assembly had already passed marriage equality — urging French citizens to continue contacting lawmakers to express their opposition. The press release was notable in that it was the first time NOM acknowledged that anti-gay groups were engaging in violent protests after denying any responsibility just days earlier. Still, NOM’s Brian Brown tried to suggest both sides were responsible for the violence:
We urge all French citizens to contact lawmakers to express their strong opposition to this policy. We also call on all citizens to conduct themselves honorably and peacefully. Even though the same-sex marriage policy being foisted on an unwilling public is profoundly unwise and anti-family, no citizen should ever express their disapproval through violent means. We condemn in the strongest possible terms violence by anyone on either side of this debate.
In the hours after Tuesday’s final vote in Parliament, violence had continued almost exclusively among opponents of the marriage legislation. Protesters threw stones, bottles, and iron bars at police units and police retaliated with tear gas. Around 50 people were arrested. Watch a video of protesters blocking a street and resisting police Tuesday night:
The French National Assembly has finalized passage of the marriage equality bill with a vote of 331-225. Technically, New Zealand approved its bill before France, but together the two represent the 13th and 14th countries to legalize recognition of same-sex marriages. The National Assembly originally supported the bill 329-229 and the Senate passed it with a voice vote.
The advancement of same-sex marriage and adoption in France has been very contentious, with opponents promising retaliatory violence for the law’s passage. Indeed, violent hate crimes against gay French citizens have increased in recent weeks. Not only have anti-gay protesters repeatedly clashed with police, injuring journalists and destroying property as they march, but this past week, death threats were sent to lawmakers because of their intention to support marriage equality. In the lead up to today’s vote, the hashtag #IlFautTuerLesHomosexuels, or “Homosexuals must be killed,” has been trending on Twitter. Despite the National Organization for Marriage’s role in the French campaign, they have not acknowledged nor condemned this violence. Additional marches are planned to demand the withdrawal of the bill.
Frigide Barjot promised 'blood' in response to marriage equality passing.
As the French National Assembly prepares to vote on final approval of marriage equality, anti-gay violence has severely escalated. Multiple guerrilla rallies by opponents of the law have taken place over the past few days, resulting in vandalized cars, assaulted journalists, and even death threats to lawmakers. A 24-year-old gay man was brutally beaten Saturday night after leaving a club with his boyfriend in the latest example of how the opposition is directly targeting gay people.Police have already made over 100 arrests over the past week.
Claude Bartolone, the Socialist president of France’s Assemblée Nationale (lower house of parliament) on Monday received a threatening letter containing gunpowder and demanding he defer a parliamentary vote, expected to definitively legalize gay marriage on Tuesday.
The one-page letter, signed by “an intermediary of law enforcement,” warns Bartolone that “our methods are more radical and more swift than protests”, according to French magazine L’Express.
The document concludes with the statement “You wanted war, and you’ve got it.” [...]
“Allowing marriage for all would be the same as destroying all marriage,” the letter says, before making the chilling threat: “If you were to carry on regardless, your political family will have to suffer physically.“
Given both chambers of Parliament have already approved the legislation and this week’s final vote is merely a technicality to resolve some amendments, marriage equality is coming to France. But thanks to groups like NOM stirring up conservatives, equality could come accompanied by uncontrolled anti-gay violence.
Watch a EuroNews clip highlighting the past week’s anti-equality protests:
The French Parliament prepares for its final vote on marriage equality next week, and opponents of marriage equality have promised violence and homophobic attacks have begun to increase. French President François Hollande has denounced these reactions:
HOLLANDE: 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.
On Wednesday, several thousand protesters took to the streets of Paris, leading to cars and public property being damaged, as well as police officers and journalists being attacked. Wednesday night, four people carried out an attack at a gay bar, punching the bar manager, throwing chairs through windows, and causing other material damage. On Monday, 70 anti-gay protesters were arrested for attempting to set up a campsite outside the National Assembly.
Marriage equality has already passed in both chambers of Parliament — next week’s vote in the National Assembly is merely a final technicality to address minor amendments made in the Senate. Opponents are planning to nevertheless proceed with their march on May 26th, demanding the law be withdrawn.
BARJOT: This is a disgrace. The French people don’t want this law, and what do they do? They speed up its passage. [President François] Hollande wants blood, and he will get it. We live in a dictatorship. The President of the Republic has guillotined us.
Members of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), France’s current minority conservative party, similarly suggested such a reaction. UMP deputies Christian Jacob and Hervé Mariton did not mince their words:
JACOB: The President of the Republic is risking a violent confrontation with the French people.
MARITON: [Passing the same-sex marriage bill is] an incitement to civil war.
Violence has already been an issue in France due to the same-sex marriage bill. When opponents held their most recent march, a group attempted to challenge police barricades and violate the march’s route and were met with tear gas. In general, gay rights groups have expressed concern about increasing levels of violence against the LGBT community, including one man, Wilfred de Bruijn, whose severe injuries have led to him being nicknamed “the face of homophobia.”
Interestingly, new details suggest a significant relationship between France’s anti-equality movement and the National Organization for Marriage, as was previously suspected. NOM has yet to condemn these promises of violence.
As expected, the French Senate granted final approval to marriage equality legislation today by a show-of-hands vote. The National Assembly must hold another vote in May to review some minor amendments that were made in the Senate, but given the bill originally passed there by a 100-vote margin, the extra vote poses no real threat to passage. Same-sex marriage will become law a few months from now, making France the 13th country to legalize it. Uruguay became the 12th earlier this week.
The French Senate has approved another essential component of the marriage equality legislation, an article approving adoption rights for same-sex couples. With both that article and the basic marriage equality article passed, it’s likely the Senate will have no trouble passing the full bill in its entirety, but that might still take several weeks. It will also have to return to the National Assembly for final approval, which will likely happen in late May.
In France, the issues of same-sex marriage and adoption are considered separately, with adoption being a much more contentious matter. The same poll that found 63 percent of French voters support marriage equality found that only 49 percent support adoption rights. The boisterous rallies opposed to the legislation have championed the idea that children deserve a mother and a father, a talking point seemingly exported by American anti-gay groups. Opponents say they will organize another mass protest in Paris on May 26 if the legislation is approved, arguing it should be withdrawn and calling for a national referendum instead.
Late Tuesday night the French Senate approved the first article of the marriage equality legislation, which grants same-sex couples the right to marry, by a vote of 179-157 after 10 hours of debate. This is not the final step for the bill, but suggests its likelihood of passing. The Senate must still approve a separate article providing same-sex couples the right to adopt, following which the upper house will vote on the full final bill, all of which could happen before the week is over.
Though polls show a significant majority of French citizens support the bill, it has considered significant divisions among the French people. During a large demonstration in Paris last month opposing marriage equality, some protesters attempted to challenge police barricades, leading to a violent clash. The division is leading to an increase in homophobic attacks, including a horrible beating of a gay man this weekend — who many have called “the face of homophobia” for his bruised and bloody appearance.