It’s a country famous for the infamous Moulin Rouge and raunchy can-can shows, but it seems the French public are less open to the idea of gay marriage.
In the past week over 70,000 people took to the streets of Paris – with smaller demonstrations in Lyon, Toulouse and Marseille – protesting against the government’s plans to legalise same-sex marriage and to allow gay couples to adopt. Protesters at the march in Paris, which was organised by the Catholic group Civitas, clashed with controversial Ukrainian group Femen, who support gay rights. Femen activities turned up topless, chanted “in gay we trust” and sprayed white powder from bottles. In response, anti-gay marriage protesters struck the activists, pushing them to the ground.
And it appears that it is not just the French public opposing the proposed bill. Over 1,000 mayors and members of the Catholic Church have voiced their disapproval of the bill, which was approved earlier this month, and which will be debated in parliament next January, by signing a petition. The issue has become one of the most controversial for socialist president Francois Hollande, with politicians divided – unsurprising given that a same-sex marriage bill was dismissed by parliament in June 2011.
…it’s an enormous danger to the nation…
Opposition senator Serge Dassault, has said of the proposal: “It’s the end of the family, the end of children’s development, the end of education – it’s an enormous danger to the nation”, while some in the French government argue that gay rights should be further extended by offering gay couples state funding for artificial insemination.
The protests in France come shortly after gay marriage was approved by three states in America – Maine, Maryland and Washington – and weeks after Spain’s highest court upheld the country’s gay marriage laws (introduced by the previous government), after rejecting an appeal by the current ruling People’s Party made seen years ago. The decision was to the delight of Spain’s National Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals (FELGTB). General secretary of the organisation, Jesus Generelo said: “We’re very, very pleased… I think it is clear that gay marriage is now part of our society.”
…Britain should take a look at its own stance on the issue…
If the French parliament goes ahead and approves the bill to legalise same-sex marriage, it will make the country the sixth in Europe to do so, behind the Netherlands (the first country in the world to do so, in 2000), Belgium, Spain, Norway and Sweden. With the current forward motion made by many of our European neighbours and our ‘closest ally’ America with regards to legalising gay marriage, Britain should take a look at its own stance on the issue. In the 45 years since homosexuality was legalised in England and Wales (Scotland did not follow until 1980 and Northern Ireland 1982), progression has been made, but there is still a long way to go.
Tory Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to legalise gay marriage in Britain by 2015. In July this year, Cameron said he wanted to follow on in Tony Blair’s footsteps (whose Government legalised civil partnerships) by legalising marriage, stating if marriage was “good enough” for heterosexual couples, it was appropriate for homosexuals ones too. But in spite of his strong stance on the issue, Cameron faces somewhat of an uphill battle with not only Conservatives uneasy about the idea, but many of his own MPs as well. When the time does eventually come for politicians in this country to vote on legalising same-sex marriage in Britain, they will be allowed to do so according to their consciences.
…marriage is a universal human right…
It can only be hoped that in doing so they take into consideration the fact that marriage is a universal human right – and that it should be applied to all, regardless of sexual orientation.