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Gay marriage in France, I say: Yes

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Earlier this month François Hollande introduced a bill to legalise gay marriage and allow gay couples to adopt, which was backed by the cabinet. The draft legislation will be debated in parliament in January. 

But despite the backing of 65% of the French population¹, it’s being protested by thousands of people all over France.

Most of my acquaintances, friends, and family disagree with me on the topic of gay marriage. To them, it’s wrong and unnatural. I respect that that is their opinion, and I respect their right to express that opinion openly, provided it’s expressed in a way that doesn’t incite hatred or violence.

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Likewise, I respect the opinions of those 100,000 French people who are protesting plans to legalise gay marriage in France.²

But I’m not happy about it.

As a woman of colour who used to be a visible Muslim, I know exactly what discrimination feels like. I’ve been taunted, bullied, and refused jobs because of my skin colour and what I wore on my head.

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I have this nightmare the extremely xenophobic Pauline Hanson gets elected Prime Minister of Australia.

She denies me the right to marry who I choose, access to healthcare, and then executes me. Because to her, immigrants and Muslims are unnatural and harmful.

That’s my nightmare, but that’s the gay community’s reality.

I wonder how many of you are familiar with Eudy Simelane. Or Larry King, Tyra Hunter, or Matthew Shepard. These people are all dead as a result of homophobia.

When a person violently protests the right of homosexuals to marry, it’s essentially tantamount to that person declaring that they condone the mistreatment and abuse of gay people.

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To me, it sounds like that person is standing up and saying, “I don’t care that a 15-year-old was shot twice in the head at school because he was gay. Or that a woman was gang raped, beaten, and stabbed 25 times because she was gay.”

Refusing gay marriage only helps perpetuate the idea that it is OK to treat homosexuals as second class citizens.

Not to mention the French protestors’ argument that children need one mother and one father. I only ever had a single parent – my mother – and I like to think I turned out just fine. In fact, I think I would have turned out much worse if my biological father had been in the picture.

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What children need is love, support and stability. My opinion is that anyone who would argue that only two heterosexual parents can provide that is, quite frankly, delusional.

But while it’s disappointing to read that 100,000 people went to the streets to protest Hollande’s proposed law, and even more disappointing to see people equating homosexuality with incest³ and bestiality?, it’s heartening to see people protesting the protests.

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These two girls, 17-year-old Julia Pistolesiand and 19-year-old Auriane Susini, happened to walk past a ‘Un papa une maman’ protest in Marseille and spontaneously decided to show their support of gay marriage by kissing each other.

Oh, and they’re not gay – it was “a gesture of solidarity, pure and simple”.?

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French/Ukraine feminist activist group Femen also showed up to protest a Catholic protest in France. They were dressed as nuns, except they were topless and had the words ‘In Gay We Trust’ painted on their bodies. They were pepper-sprayed and beaten for their troubles. I’ll agree their method may have been sacriligeous, but it got the point across. I admire their bravery.

To Femen, to Julia and Auriane, to François Hollande, and to 65% of the French population, I say: bravo, et bonne chance.

Do you think gay marriage should be legal in France? Why/why not?
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References:
1. French government approves introduction of same-sex marriage: Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian UK, 7/11/12
2. French protests against gay marriage: Aljazeera News, 18/11/12
3. Anti-gay marriage protesters rally in Paris: AFP, France 24, 18/11/12
4. Bestiality enters gay wed debate: Dan Harrison, The Age, 19/09/12
5. Lesbian kiss steals spotlight at French anti-gay parenting protest: AFP, France 24, 25/10/12
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Image credits:
1. Flag, via Secular Planet
2. 1 man, 1 woman, via NOM
3. No to gay marriage, Reuters via TVNZ
4. 1 father, 1 mother, AFP via The Australian
5. Liberty, Equality, Homosexuality, AFP via The Herald Sun

6. The Marseille kiss, AFP via France 24
7. Femen, via Hurriyet



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4 Comments




  1. Sarah Taylor
    7 years ago

    This is a very interesting article, Hella – thanks for writing it.
    I think, as you have pointed out, it is important to respect people’s opinions. However, this only works if the people expressing the opinions are being respectful of others.
    A good debate is always interesting, but there ought to be boundaries. I saw the manifestation in Lyon a few weekends ago. While some people were marching quietly, there were others who seemed to be going out of their way to cause offence (on both sides of the argument). In my opinion, this is just not acceptable in the 21st century.


  2. francois roland
    7 years ago

    Hi Hella, (a hello to Sarah as well)

    I’m French and I would say first that I agree on your parallel between the discrimination of the gay people and the one of the colored, foreign or of different religion. France happens to be a country of growing intolerance as we can observe it, by the way, in most of European countries up to Nederland which was considered as very tolerant so far. So in France, we have racist and xenophobic people, and I’m certain than a good part of the same ones can be found in the anti-gay protests.

    Now what has to be said about these intolerant people is that they have a model for a society (mostly based on religious beliefs) and like all the intolerant ones they would want to impose it to everyone. Modern societies are changing; we have now homosexual people who had so far the partial recognition of the fact that they can love each other (no so far back in time it was considered a sickness or even a crime) but not the full recognition that they can build a life together with the same rights than everyone. In a free and egalitarian society, it completely makes sense that this right should be given to them. And one thing has to be pointed out: Giving this right to homosexual people doesn’t deprive the others of any right they had so far. So the debate is not about some freedom that they could lose, it’s about a freedom that they have and would want to deny to people who are just different from them! Which is the very basis of what we call “intolerance”: Not accepting that other people could be different and imposing them your own model.

    Maybe you will want to read more about the way I addressed this topic here in my blog: http://chatlibre.blog.lemonde.fr/2012/11/22/the-one-who-sang-fuck-me-with-two-fingers/

    Now before I say something more about it, I have a question for you: I see that on your photos of the Femen group protesting, one of these women have been blurred in a place where her breasts would have been seen. Was the photo already blurred where you took it, or did you blur it yourself? And if it was your doing, just a question: Why?


  3. Hella Ibrahim
    7 years ago

    Thanks Sarah – and I very much agree with you on the issue of boundaries and intentionally causing offense. For example, in the case of Femen, I felt their method was very offensive to Catholics and several other religious factions – writing ‘F**k God’ on oneself is an unnecessary attacking statement. The other slogans they used would have been sufficient. But then again, as I said, it was an effective attention gathering tool, so it’s a greyish area for me.

    And hi Francois! You make some valid, interesting posts, both in your comment and in your blog post (thank you for explaining about Frigide Barjot! I wasn’t familiar with her). To answer your question, I didn’t take that photo of Femen (if only! That would require me to be in Paris, and sadly I am not). I took the photo from this website: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/Default.aspx?PageID=447&GalleryID=1006
    As to why I chose an image with the breats blurred, it’s very simple – I wanted to maintain My French Life’s family-friendly G-rating! Otherwise I would have used a different photo, I would have liked to show an image of the words they had painted on themselves.


  4. francois roland
    7 years ago

    Hi Hella,

    Oki I get it. Well, no surprise that the the Daily News – classica cynical and hypocrite tabloid – would blur Femen’s nipples on theirs photos. They can be ludicrously puritan in some occasions and grossly eye-catching with sexy pictures when they think it can boost the sales. See these pages:
    http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/alessandra-ambrosio-made-brazil-magazine-shoot-gallery-1.1215453
    http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/celebrity-photos-week-week-dec-3-gallery-1.1214988

    Well, I confess I didn’t know we were writing for children here! 🙂 And female nipples, seriously? … It seems to me that it’s the first thing a child has to see and in close up I’d say! So one fine day someone will have to explain to me in what sort of manner the simple vision of nipples should be harmful to those poor little cherubs!