Homosexual marriage would be good, as we would have the same rights as heterosexual couples. On the front of the town halls is written "Equality, Brotherhood, Freedom".
It doesn't matter to me at all. They can marry, or not marry. I feel it's a bit foolish because we know that in the end there are many marriages which finish in divorce, so it's going to a lot of trouble for nothing.
The rights of homosexuals are in the forefront of political life in France at the moment. At Begles near Bordeaux, two men have celebrated the first homosexual marriage in a town hall. But the consecration of their union doesn't have legal validity and the mayor who officiated at the ceremony, Noel Mamere of the Green Party, risks a government sanction.
Homosexual couples already have the right to make known their relationship thanks to PaCS - the "Pac Civil de Solidarité" - introduced in 1999. But the PaCS doesn't give homosexual couples all the social advantages which heterosexual couples have. Jean-Philippe of Gay Pride:
It is true that we have the PaCS but it has been made a bit too lightweight. There are many conditions in the PaCS which are not acceptable. For example inheritance, if one person of the homosexual couple dies, the survivor has no inheritance rights, unless the papers had been made in advance.
There are also the questions of life and death. Organ donation is very controlled in France, to avoid it becoming subjected to trafficking, and it is only within the close family that a donation can be made without too many formalities. A homosexual film maker, Philip Brooks, died following the authority's refusal of a donation for a transplant that his PaCS partner would have willingly made possible.
There was recently a case of a homosexual couple that were PaCS. One of them needed an organ transplant. The only one compatible was that of his companion. And that was refused because they were not married. Therefore we consider that we really must achieve the same rights as the normal population.
But if logically the normalisation of rights leads to homosexual marriage, some [people] anticipate unfortunate consequences.
Ah well, I'm not especially for it. For the reason that... let's say I'm not against their way of life, but I think that after we give that choice to homosexuals, it bothers me a bit that they are going to want to go much further, to the level of adoption. And I think that adoption, well, that's another problem, but I think that with adoption they think more of their pleasure than of the well being of the child.
Jean-Philippe Salini rejects the accusation:
Well, on adoption it's true that by being married there would be... it's going to bring up the problem of adoption later. I think that, well, with a homosexual couple who want to adopt a child, the child will surely have a more stable life. It's true that many say that that risks putting the children at a disadvantage, the children's education, because to have been put with two fathers or two mothers is not to be in a normal family. There are also some lesbian couples who have been married and who already have children and afterwards they are together and yet the children don't have any specific problems. The children don't complain at all. I know that it is an enormous problem, but, well... also adoption is not made immediately in practical terms, there are still social enquiries but well, if there is a law that covers all that, a homosexual couple would be able to adopt I think that there really are children who would be much happier in the home of a homosexual couple than in a heterosexual home.
Less controversial is a new bill against homophobia, the adoption of which is expected before the end of the year. The bill, relating to "the fight against discriminatory matters of a sexual or homophobic nature" envisages sanctions of up to a year in prison or a fine of 45,000 euros in cases of "provocation of discrimination, of hatred or of violence with regard to a person or a group of people for reason of their sex or their sexual orientation".
For Jean-Philippe Salini, the need for such a law is evident. Today in France, as in most of the countries of the world, it's impossible for a homosexual couple to exhibit a relationship in public, without running the risk of being verbally or physically attacked:
That poses some problems, that poses some problems; you cannot really show yourself openly in the street. So, it is really shameful that we have reached this point.
There are many people who suffer physical aggression because they are homosexuals, or injuries, but they dare not lodge a complaint because they know that afterwards, there is no recourse. There are laws which are established for racism, but for homophobia there is no recourse. What has made us really act is the barbarous aggression that Sebastien Loucher suffered on 16th January. That person burned himself alive in his garden because he was one of a couple of homosexuals and for two years he had problems relating to that. They moved the first time because they were suffering from car thefts, from damage to property and all that. Verbal insults, physical insults also because they were homosexuals.
Nevertheless, we can reasonably hope that tolerance is gaining ground; associations for the rights of homosexuals fight without ceasing so that their place in society be recognised.
Society has changed, there is more tolerance, it's true that most of the time aggression is by young people. So, now we think that by giving warnings or information starting at the level of secondary school and high school we will really be able to see an improvement. There is an edition of "mallette" which has been produced for the secondary schools and high schools to teach people, students to respect the ways of other people.
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