French PM mulls commission to look at gay marriage
June 25, 2004
PARIS — French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told gay rights
groups Thursday he was considering setting up a commission to study
marriage and adoption, in an apparent attempt to deflect criticism
for punishing a mayor who wedded two homosexual men early this
Alain Piriou centre after talks with the minister|
Photo - AFP
"He promised to speak it over with the president of the republic
(Jacques Chirac). The forum for public debate would involve
parliamentary deputies, intellectuals and members of society who
have a position on the issue," the spokesman of the Lesbian, Gay,
Bi and Transexual Inter-association (LBGT), Alain Piriou, said
after the meeting.
Raffarin held the working breakfast with the groups as issues
involving France's homosexual community were gaining prominence.
The government last week suspended for a month a mayor from the
opposition Green party, Noel Mamere, after he officiated over a
June 5 wedding of two men – France's first gay wedding – in
defiance of authorities' instructions.
That incident created an uproar in the country and earned
Raffarin's conservative government anger from gay rights groups.
The ruckus was likely to be again referred to on Saturday, when
Paris is to hold its annual Gay Pride parade.
But the government has also taken a strong stand in favour of
homosexuals, on Wednesday approving a bill which would punish
homophobic attacks or insults with jail time and a fine of up to
45,000 euros (54,000 dollars).
The bill, which puts sexist and anti-gay remarks on the same
criminal level as words encouraging racism or anti-Semitism, was
conceived in the wake of a vicious attack on a homosexual man who
was badly burned earlier this year.
An association which defends the rights of homosexuals in
France, SOS-Homophobia, issued a report Tuesday that the number of
violent assaults on gay people doubled between 2002 and 2003, from
41 complaints to 86.
"A large percentage of the population is in favour of rights for
homosexuals, but there are extremists whose total rejection of
homosexualtiy pushes them into acts that go very far," a spokesman
for the association, Ronan Rosec, said as he presented the report.
Piriou said Tuesday that Raffarin's idea for a commission on
marriage and adoption did not intend to reform the institutions in
He predicted that "at the end of the debate we'll probably come
to a disagreement, but we are not losing hope in convincing the
majority of people that reforms are necessary to achieve equal
His association and other pro-gay groups said they were
determined to lobby hard for marriage to be formally extended to
"Concerning marriage, we are not prepared to make concessions.
It's marriage or nothing," the head of the Association for Gay and
Lesbian Parents, Martine Gross, said.
France has since 1999 permitted couples, including same-sex
ones, to attain some of the legal rights of marriage, but not
others, notably those dealing with taxes and inheritance, through a
civil union known as PACS.
Belgium and the Netherlands are currently the only two European
states that recognise homosexual marriages. – Sapa-AFP
French cabinet approves bill outlawing homophobia [24/06/2004]