By Tatiana Tissot
Debates about same-sex marriage in France have caused opinions to radicalize. Both politicians and people in the streets opposed to the bill have expressed strong opinions, followed by a worrying phenomenon of the legitimization of homophobia.
Now, the bill has been accepted by the National Assembly, but things aren’t calming down, as riots during demonstrations and hatred tweets against gay people prove it.
There is no more taboo to openly claim extreme positions against LGBT people. As a result, calls to the national association “SOS homophobia” have been multiplied by three over the last year.
“Homophobia is being legitimized, but I want to remind everyone that it remains a crime in this country. Being homophobic cannot be considered as freedom of speech!” Elodie Brun, coordinator for Montpellier’s Gay Pride Association told 429Magazine. She argues that people guilty of homophobia should be clearly condemned.
She says she’s not really surprised about the several attacks towards gay bars and couples that happened over the last month in France, since she has observed an increase in homophobic behaviors. “I didn’t think we could come to this in 2013 and I’m worried for all homosexuals living in France. I have the feeling a drama could happen at any time.”
At the office of the Gay Pride Association, they regularly receive Bibles or prayers in the mailbox and hatred calls on the answering machine. “Lately, a woman left a message saying ‘If you ask for adoption rights, we’ll give you only mentally handicapped children,’ we must face this kind of hatred day every day,” said Brun. ” As we’re militants, we’re more exposed, but we intend to resist to fear.”
This is happening in Montpellier, known as one of the most gay-friendly cities in France. Even here, some young gay people told us they don’t feel at ease anymore.
“I have been insulted openly on the streets, and I’m not the only one. Before the debates about same-sex marriage, I never faced that!” said Zoe, co-president of ANGEL association, which organizes meetings where young gays and lesbians can talk about their situation.
At their last get-together, a young man told us he noticed a change: “I’ve had the feeling that people stare at me and my boyfriend lately. Sometimes, I avoid getting close to him in public.”
“Me too, I prefer hiding my homosexuality, since people don’t seem very open-minded lately. I don’t feel safe,” said another member of the association. “And we’re in the most gay-friendly city of France: I can’t imagine how gay people live in other places.”
However, hiding would mean “going thirty years back in time” the ANGEL members regretted.
The association also works with schools and organizes workshops about homosexuality. They noticed some students started being openly homophobic, which hardly happened before the argument on gay weddings started.
Even if the first same-sex marriages will be celebrated in France in June, a mayor claimed he will go against the law. Jean-Claude Massiou, from the UMP party, said he will refuse to marry gay couples, as “a wedding must be between a man and a woman.”
Mayor of a town called Abjat-sur-Bandiat, Massiou maintains that he has nothing against gays and lesbians: “I will explain this to them gently, without aggressivity. It’s not homophobia or anything like that.”
The incident reminds French people of another marriage incident. Back in 2004, mayor Noel Mamère did celebrate a gay wedding, even though it was not allowed by law.
The justice suspended the politician for a month, and the wedding was declared legally void. Unlike Massiou, Mamère was then fighting for progress in society.