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France

Parisians decry homophobia as gay-marriage law nears

© Photo: Collectif Oui-oui-oui

Text by Joseph BAMAT

Latest update : 2013-04-11

Thousands of people rallied at Paris City Hall on Wednesday evening to denounce rising acts of violence against gays, amid escalating tensions over a bill that will open marriage and adoption to same sex-couples in France.

Around five thousand people gathered outside Paris City Hall on Wednesday evening to protest rising homophobia, while French senators passed a key article of a gay-marriage bill that will allow same-sex couples to adopt children.

“This is one of the faces of hatred,” read some of posters at Wednesday’s rally, above photos of Alain Escada and Frigide Barjot, two of the figures leading the French movement against the gay-marriage and adoption bill.

“Homophobia kills,” other protesters chanted under a light but steady rain that soaked the French capital. Gay rights activists and supporters of the bill were joined by a handful of lawmakers and city officials, including deputy mayor Anne Hidalgo, a Socialist.

The hot-button issue has mobilised both the pro- and anti-gay marriage camps in recent months. Opponents of the proposed law have staged some of the largest marches in recent French history, even while polls show a majority of French now support legislation opening marriage to same-sex couples.

The people huddled at the city hall claimed that the seemingly harmless declarations by critics of same-sex marriage were inciting violent acts of homophobia.

French MP Erwann Binet, who authored and submitted the bill at the National Assembly and was present at the anti-homophobia rally, cancelled a string of speaking engagements this week after being threatened by far-right youth groups.

Another notable participant was Wilfried de Bruijin, a Paris resident who was brutally attacked and beaten on Saturday night in Paris 19th district while he was walking home with a friend. A picture of his bloody and bruised face taken after the assault went viral on online social networks this week.

“It’s very important to be here, to show an image of love and dignity,” De Bruijin told the AFP news agency.

Two other gay couples were victims of homophobic attacks over the weekend in Paris’ 10th and 19th districts.

On Sunday night, a hall used LGBT rights groups in Paris’ gay-friendly Marais district was vandalised and plastered with posters of the anti-gay marriage lobby.

Adoption adopted by Senators

Late on Wednesday, France’s Senate approved the article of the bill that extends adoption rights to gay and lesbian couples, despite long interventions by some right-wing lawmakers.

The bill is currently crawling through the Senate, with more debates and votes scheduled until Friday. The marriage reform was approved by the National Assembly in February, and is also expected to clear the Senate, but must return to the lower-house of parliament for ratification before becoming law.

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira once more shined in her defence of the bill during Wednesday night’s Senate debate, drawing wide applause by the left-wing dominated chamber.

Opponents of the bill have branded it the “Taubira Law” in an objection to her efforts spearheading the measure.

Date created : 2013-04-11

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