Over the past eight months France has been locked in a fiercely divisive and often violent debate over the government’s same-sex marriage bill, which was finally enshrined into law last Saturday by President François Hollande. Gay rights groups have denounced mounting homophobia amid the hot contestation to the law, while opponents are due to stage a further mass protest in Paris on May 26th. Le Refuge is a national association that offers shelter, medical services and psychological counselling to youngsters who have been rejected and often made homeless by their families because of their homosexuality. It has seen a surge in requests for help since the debate kicked off in earnest last autumn, increasing five-fold over the same period one year earlier. Marine Turchi visited the association’s Paris centre and heard the distressing stories of those for whom it offers a lifeline.
The attack in Lille was the latest in a series of homophobic incidents amid nationwide tensions over the introduction of a same-sex marriage law.
FRANCE 24 recounts the story of Antoine, who was just 17 when he was kicked out of his home in France after coming out as gay.
A Member of Parliament from President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party caused uproar this week after denouncing homosexuals as over-represented “at the heart of power”, likening gay relationships to incest, dismissing the deportation of homosexuals from France during German occupation of the country in WWII as a “great legend”, and describing homosexuality as a state of “narcissism” built on “a stupid theory of genders”. The controversy caused by Christian Vanneste (pictured) erupted the day Sarkozy officially announced his bid for re-election, and coincided with the president’s dismissal of opening up marriage to gay couples “in these troubled times where our society needs points of reference”. Ellen Salvi reports.