Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • EU leaders choose Tusk and Mogherini for top jobs, discuss Russia sanctions

    Read more

  • Dozens of UN peacekeepers still held by Syrian jihadists

    Read more

  • Opposition protesters clash with Pakistani police outside PM's house

    Read more

  • Austerity row overshadows French Socialist’s annual rally

    Read more

  • Egypt sentences Brotherhood leader Badie to life

    Read more

  • Ceasfire allows Gaza families to relax on the beach

    Read more

  • S. Africa condemns 'military coup' in Lesotho

    Read more

  • Kerry calls for 'coalition of nations' to battle IS militants

    Read more

  • Ukrainian plane with seven on board crashes in Algeria

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns Russia of more sanctions

    Read more

  • IMF backs Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

France

French children to learn gay issues at primary school

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2012-10-31

As part of a broad raft of measures to help fight homophobia in France, the government has announced plans to include educating primary school children about homosexual relationships and same-sex parenting.

French Minister for Women’s Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem on Wednesday unveiled wide-ranging plans to fight homophobia in France that include teaching primary school children about issues affecting LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.

She said the Education Ministry was looking at changes to the school curriculum designed to reduce the number of teenage suicides that often result from playground bullying.

The proposals follow consultations with scores of LGBT associations and are part of a wider scheme to make France a “world leader in the fight against homophobia”.

But the frontline in the fight against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is education, according to Daniel Labaquere, National Secretary for the SNUiip teachers’ union, who welcomed Wednesday’s announcement as “the government finally acting, not just making promises.”

Labaquere told FRANCE 24 that the government’s ambition to write awareness of gay and single-parenting issues into the school curriculum – for children as young as six or seven – is essential to nip homophobia in the bud.

He said the word “pédé” (a vulgar and offensive term meaning “gay”) was France’s most widely-used playground insult, whose use was extremely damaging “not just to a young teenager who might be gay, but because of the stigma and feeling of inferiority it can put on children who aren’t”.

‘It’s all about respect’

France has an estimated 300,000 school children who come from homes with same-sex couples, according to Labaquere.

“If these children are going to feel like they come from normal families, their classmates need to understand the issues,” he said.

“It isn’t right that we have children in the school system whose home lives are misunderstood, who get bullied and excluded as a result.”

Changes to the curriculum, he insisted, would not involve active promotion of homosexuality or explanations of “what people do in private”, but would help explain “the importance of relationships and of love.”

“This is all about teaching children to respect each other regardless of their backgrounds,” he said. “It’s exactly the same as dealing with the kind of ignorance that leads to children being bullied for wearing glasses or for being fat.”

A broad raft of proposals

Among the measures announced on Wednesday are plans for improved training and support for police officers dealing with homophobic hate crimes, as well as moves towards giving transgender people legal recognition of their new genders.

Also on the table are laws that would give greater parenting rights to same-sex couples and to give them access to Medically Assisted Procreation (MAP) such as IVF treatment, which is currently only available to heterosexual couples.

Vallaud-Belkacem also said an inter-ministerial group was working on ways to clamp down on (mainly religious) organisations in France who claim they can “cure” people of homosexuality.

The announcement comes as the government continues to press ahead with a bill to legalise same-sex marriage, which is due to be voted in January 2013.

Going global

And while gay marriage the bill in its current form has been criticised by for not going far enough to give same-sex couples the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts, LGBT campaigners broadly welcomed Wednesday’s announcement.

Stéphane Cordin, spokesman for the French LGBT Federation, told FRANCE 24: “It is the first time the French government has shown itself willing to get so involved in fighting homophobia. It is very encouraging.

“Big changes can be achieved very quickly that will make a big difference to our society and for the welfare of victims of homophobic crimes and bullying.”

The French government is hoping its ambitions to eliminate homophobia in France can reverberate internationally, and will push for a United Nations resolution for global decriminalisation of homosexuality, Vallaud-Belkacem said on Wednesday.

“In Europe we will work towards having a common stance, while in France we will strengthen our protection for asylum seekers whose lives are in danger because of their sexual orientation,” she said.

Date created : 2012-10-31

  • FRANCE

    Paris sets sights on Gay Games

    Read more

  • FRANCE - ISLAM

    One Muslim's fight to marry Islam with homosexuality

    Read more

  • FRENCH ELECTIONS 2012

    Sarkozy risks ‘gay vote’ over same-sex marriage stance

    Read more

COMMENT(S)