France recently passed a law criminalizing conversion therapy – which includes group sessions, injections and electric shocks to alter someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity after President Macron signs it into effect. A recent Ifop study underscores France’s increasing acceptance of homosexuality and gay parents, yet some prejudices and stereotyping remain.
Young people are more open about their sexuality and gender. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people continue to face discrimination and violence worldwide despite social, political and cultural challenges – a violation of fundamental human rights that France is committed to combatting by protecting LGBTI rights and advocating equality.
At France’s 2012 national elections, former Socialist President Francois Hollande promised to legalise gay marriage, regularize gay porn and grant parenting rights to same-sex couples during his campaign for political office. When the law took effect in April 2013, same-sex couples held their first wedding ceremonies under its new rules; but its implementation was not without controversy: its debates in parliament and protest marches by opponents united under blue and pink logos were often harsh; media reports also reported an increase in homophobic hatred that had previously gone unsaid.
Recent years have seen an unprecedented spike in reports of homophobia or transphobia across France
Prompting government action to combat it. Elisabeth Moreno, Junior Minister for Gender Equality has recently unveiled an extensive national plan designed to combat this scourge at home, school, university, work and media settings while training police officers on how to respond appropriately when attacks happen. Furthermore, this plan includes measures against groups offering conversion therapy — which involves group sessions, injections and prayer attempts at changing sexual orientation or gender identity through group sessions, injections or prayer — in attempts at changing sexual orientation or gender identity by changing sexual orientation or gender identity through various means.
Oxford’s distinguished series on sexuality brings together an impressive array of intellectual, social and cultural historians to address homosexuality in modern France. While individual chapters may vary in research topics and analytic focus, one gets the impression that a subdisciplinary consensus is working effectively and strongly across France – thus marking this book as a significant milestone in contemporary homosexual studies.
Though France is widely seen as one of the friendliest nations for LGBTQI individuals, they still experience significant discrimination every day – violence, slurs and online and offline hate speech are commonplace; according to SOS Homophobie (an anti-discrimination non-governmental organisation) more acts of physical aggression against lesbians and transgender people increased by 33% (+130%) between 2015-20.
Anti-gay sentiment and actions have recently seen an alarming resurgence in French political life
Particularly at its National Assembly where President Nicolas Dupont-Aignan has made it his mission to “revive France’s tradition of open debate and respect”, calling for a return to its “democratic culture” from the 1980s, when France was among the first countries to decriminalise homosexuality and pass anti-discrimination laws.
French authorities recently announced an increase in funding for groups supporting victims of homophobia and transphobia, in an effort to strengthen LGBTI people – particularly women – rights while helping overcome any stigma which prevents them from reporting attacks against themselves.
Use of language to marginalise LGBTI people has long been an accepted practice across Europe. Both Greek and Latin had vast lexicons of epithets used against homosexual practices or effeminate behaviours among men, which were seen as signs of lack of masculinity; male homosexuals also suffered lower social standing during Renaissance due to supposedly less potency sex (Van Raemdonck et al., 2011).
Modern romance languages’ words “homosexuel” and its Italian equivalent “omosessulale” continue to stigmatise gay sexual behaviors and identities. This can be seen from their time series of frequency in French and Italian until 1962 and their subsequent gradual increase, reflecting eased censorship and increased awareness. Fig 2 depicts their respective graphs.
Pede’s return is particularly alarming in France since this word once held negative connotations but now appears more positive due to resemantisation or enemy (Rastier & Valette, 2009). Pede is now used to refer to paedophilia although initially intended to stigmatise homosexual paedophilia.
French society has historically been considered one of the world’s leaders regarding LGBT rights
Although homosexual acts were punishable by death before and after the 1791 French Revolution, laws outlawing such actions have gradually disappeared from penal codes. Protections were passed into law for sexual orientation discrimination in 1985 and homophobic insults criminalised in 2004, yet perceptions that homosexuals are inferior remain entrenched among many people.
According to an Ifop study, 85 percent of French citizens view homosexuality as just another way of living their sexuality – an improvement on the 24 percent who felt this way just seven years after homosexuality was decriminalised in France. Still, certain individuals remain uncomfortable around LGBT people; 30 percent think jobs that involve close contact with children should be prohibited for homosexuals.
Recent surveys conducted in France revealed that 12 percent of French young women and 8 percent of young men have already experienced homosexual relationships, and 30 percent of girls said that they would consider engaging in one if the opportunity presented itself. One reason could be attributed to shifts in sexual practices; specifically an increase in oral sex practice among women while men have seen this practice decrease significantly over time.
As for same-sex parenting, the French government has made great efforts to support families where both mothers or fathers share parental responsibilities, through a fund set up in 2017. Furthermore, France was one of the first governments to join the Equal Rights Coalition: an association of States committed to upholding LGBTI rights through public declarations and joint confidential demarches; others continually threaten an impressive feat considering their rights.
The French are less aware of the reality of same-sex parenting
Even though more people have accepted homosexuality and, according to opinion polls, French citizens support gay marriage, this society remains far from open. Homophobia remains prevalent in certain areas and among older people, poorer people, women and those with lower educational levels; tolerance has yet to dispel some old prejudices about homosexuality; one fifth believe jobs requiring permanent contact with children should not go to homosexuals.
France has pledged its support to combat homophobia and to the efforts of the UN’s core group on LGBTI rights. France regularly participates in high-level events and issues joint statements on issues pertaining to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons and intersex people who face stigmatization. Even though gay and lesbian porn remain one of the top categories most french seek when watching porno francais, the LGBT community remains a source of fetishisation and struggling to get the rights they deserve.
As of 2013, when civil unions and marriage law allowed same-sex couples to adopt and have children, social acceptance for gay and lesbian individuals has grown considerably more inclusive. Unfortunately, access to assisted reproductive technology (ART) and surrogacy services remains illegal for homosexual couples in France, thus forcing them to travel overseas to secure these services. This chapter uses qualitative analysis techniques to explore how gay and lesbian individuals “make families” within current legal constraints using ART/surrogacy services as examples.
This includes how they negotiate relationships with family, other partners and find support networks to assist with managing their lives. Here, the Church plays an essential role. Church is a source of unity, offering wisdom in discussions regarding families and sexuality. Many parishioners, religious, and priests in France and worldwide have pledged their support towards LGBT+ Catholics to build an inclusive church community. James J Martin SJ is an example of this, though his work has been under attack from conservative and traditionalist Catholics for it. Nevertheless, it remains important and necessary, given that the Church is more open than ever before to discussion of such matters.