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France lagging european neighbours on procreation rights, say activists

Philippe Desmazes, AFP file picture | Pro-PMA activists take part in the Gay Pride rally in the French city of Lyon on June 15, 2013

France’s national ethics committee on Tuesday recommended the country’s laws on medically assisted procreation (MAP) be extended to include lesbian couples and single women. FRANCE 24 takes a look at where other EU members stand on the issue.


The announcement marks a big victory for the French LGBT community whose country has lagged behind many of its European peers when it comes to more equal legislation for non-heterosexual couples.

“This is certainly a politically charged issue for many countries, one that attracts a lot of attention. From a legal and policy point of view, we could expect a country like France - one that ranks in the top five of our Rainbow Europe equality index - to be doing more. This is especially so when you consider the situation in neighbouring countries, such as Belgium, the Netherlands and, more recently, the steps taken by Portugal,” Evelyn Paradis, executive director of the European faction of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) told FRANCE 24 in a written statement.

Same-sex marriage, for example, was only legalised in France in 2013, under former Socialist president François Hollande. A clause in that law that was meant to also allow lesbian couples and single women to have children using MAP, however, was dropped after hardline Catholics and other conservative groups staged massive street protests under the banner “Manif Pour Tous” (which translates roughly into “A Demonstration for Everyone”). The protestors opposed the bill saying it threatened traditional family values.

But in its recommendation on Tuesday, France’s National Advisory Committee on Ethics said that the medical and technical access to MAP should be extended to include single and lesbian women so that they are, according to Paradis, just as “free and equal” as others “in their desire to have children”.

Paradis added that: “We also know that many lesbian couples have travelled from France to neighbouring countries – this does happen. But practically that means that many question marks linger for those couples when they return to France, in terms of recognition and protection of their family. This is something that needs to change… and France has examples of best practices from elsewhere in Europe that it can follow!”

SOS Homophobie, a group that represents LGBT rights in France, hailed the decision, calling it: “A step forward for all mums”.

The anti-equality “Manif Pour Tous” movement, however, responded by denouncing the move, saying the recommendation was “totally at odds with the wishes of the French”.

France’s new President Emmanuel Macron has expressed his support for extending the laws regarding MAP, but has yet to propose a bill on the matter.

The FRANCE 24 map below shows where other EU member states currently stand on MAP:


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