LGBT rights in New Caledonia

LGBT rights in France
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1791,
age of consent (re)equalized in 1982
Gender identity/expression Transsexual persons allowed to change legal sex
Military service Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation and gender identity protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage since 2013
Adoption Individuals and couple allowed adoption.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights in France have been seen as traditionally liberal and some of the most advanced in Europe and worldwide. Although same-sex sexual activity was a capital crime that often resulted in the death penalty during the Ancien Régime, all sodomy laws were decriminalized in 1791 during the French Revolution. However, a lesser known indecent exposure law that often targeted homosexuals was introduced in 1960 before being repealed twenty years later. The age of consent for same-sex sexual activity was altered more than once before being equalized in 1982 under then-President of France François Mitterrand. After granting same-sex couples domestic partnership benefits known as the civil solidarity pact, France became the thirteenth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2013, despite receiving opposition from across the country. Laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity have been enacted since 1985. Transsexuals are allowed to change their legal gender and in 2009, France became the first country in the world to declassify transsexualism as a mental illness. France has frequently been named one of the most gay friendly countries in the world. Recent polls have indicated that a majority of the French support same-sex marriage and in 2013,[1] another poll indicated that 77% of the French viewed that homosexuality should be accepted by society, one of the highest in the world.[2] Paris has been named by many publications as one of the most gay friendly cities in the world, with Marais, Pigalle and Bois de Boulogne being said to have a thriving LGBT community and nightlife.[3]

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity

Sodomy laws

Before the French Revolution, sodomy was a serious crime. Jean Diot and Bruno Lenoir were the last homosexuals burned to death on 6 July 1750.[4] The first French Revolution decriminalized homosexuality when the Penal Code of 1791 made no mention of same-sex relations in private. This policy on private sexual conduct was kept in the Penal Code of 1810, and followed in nations and French colonies that adopted the Code. Still, homosexuality and cross-dressing were widely seen as being immoral, and LGBT people were still subjected to legal harassment under various laws concerning public morality and order. Some homosexuals from the regions of Alsace and Lorraine, which were annexed by Nazi Germany in 1940, were persecuted and interned in concentration camps.

Higher age of consent

In the penal code, an age of consent was introduced on 28 April 1832. It was fixed to 11 years for both sexes, raised to 13 years in 1863. On 6 August 1942, the Vichy government introduced a discriminative law in penal code: article 334 (moved to article 331 on 8 February 1945[5] by the Provisional Government of the French Republic) increased the age of consent to 21 for homosexual relations and 15 for heterosexual ones. The age of 21 was then lowered to 18 in 1974, which had become the age of legal majority.[6] This law remained valid until 4 August 1982, when it was repealed under president François Mitterrand to equalise the age of consent at 15 years of age,[7] despite the vocal opposition of Jean Foyer in the French National Assembly.[8]

Indecent exposure

A less known discriminative law was adopted in 1960, inserting into the penal code (article 330, 2nd alinea) a clause that doubled the penalty for indecent exposure for homosexual activity. This ordonnance[9] was intended to repress pimping. The clause against homosexuality was adopted due to a wish of Parliament, as follows:

This ordonnance was adopted by the executive after it was authorized by Parliament to take legislative measures against national scourges such as alcoholism. Paul Mirguet, a Member of the National Assembly, felt that homosexuality was also a scourge, and thus proposed a sub-amendment, therefore known as the Mirguet amendment, tasking the government to enact measures against homosexuality, which was adopted.[10][11]

Article 330 alinea 2 was repealed in 1980 as part of an act redefining several sexual offenses.[12]

Gender identity/expression

Transsexual persons are allowed to change their legal sex. In 2009, France became the first country in the world to remove transsexualism from its list of diseases.[13] Transsexualism is part of the ALD 31 and treatment is funded by Sécurité Sociale. [14]

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Civil solidarity pacts (PACS), a form of registered domestic partnership, were enacted in 1999 for both same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex couples by the government of Lionel Jospin. Couples who enter into a PACS contract are afforded most of the legal protections, rights, and responsibilities of marriage. The right to joint adoption and artificial insemination are also denied to PACS partners (and are largely restricted to heterosexual married couples), although there are proposals to extend the rights afforded by PACS and make them more similar to marriage. France's highest constitutional court ruled that stepchild adoption of biological children by same-sex couples is allowed. Unlike married couples, they were originally not allowed to file joint tax returns until after 3 years, though this was repealed in 2005, and joint tax returns can now be filed immediately.

Same-sex civil unions/domestic partnerships conducted under laws in foreign countries are only recognised for a few countries. Registered Civil Partnerships in the United Kingdom are not recognised – the only solution currently available for a couple in a Civil Partnership to gain PACS rights in France is to dissolve their Civil Partnership and then establish a PACS. Same-sex marriages from the Netherlands, by contrast, are already recognized. This does not however allow dual citizenship, which is reserved for opposite-sex couples. For example, a Frenchman who marries a Dutchman in the Netherlands, and therefore assumes Dutch nationality, automatically loses his French citizenship.

On June 14, 2011, the National Assembly of France voted 293–222 against legalizing same-sex marriage.[15] Deputies of the majority party Union for a Popular Movement voted mostly against the measure, while deputies of the Socialist Party mostly voted in favor. Members of the Socialist Party stated that legalization of same-sex marriage would become a priority should they gain a majority in the French legislative election, 2012.[16] During his campaign for French presidential election, 2012, Socialist Party candidate François Hollande declared he supports same-sex marriage and adoption for LGBT couples, and has plans to pursue the issue in early 2013 if he won.[17] On May 7, 2012, Hollande won the election. In October, the Adoption And Marriage Equality Legislation Bill 2012 was introduced by the French Government.[18]

On February 2, 2013, the National Assembly approved the article 1 of the bill, by 249 votes against 97.[19] On 12 February 2013 the National Assembly approved the bill as a whole in a 329–229 vote and send it to the country's Senate.[20] The majority of the ruling Socialist Party voted in favor of the bill (only 4 of its members voted no) while the majority of the opposition party UMP voted against it (only 2 of its members voted yes).[21]

On 4 April 2013 the Senate started the debate on the bill and five days later it approved its first article on a 179-157 vote.[22] On April 12 the Senate approved the bill with minor amendments. French lawmakers on April 23 extended marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples, making France the 14th country in the world to legalize marriage equality by a vote 331 to 225 in the National Assembly after the Senate had approved the bill, with amendments to the original, on April 12.[23]

However a challenge to the law by the conservative UMP party was filed with the Constitutional Council following the vote.[24][25] On 17 May 2013, the Council ruled that the law is constitutional.[26] On 18 May 2013, President Francois Hollande signed the bill,[27] which was officially published the next day in the Journal Officiel.[28] The first official same-sex ceremony took place on 29 May in the city of Montpellier[29], and the first joint adoption by a same-sex couple was announced on 18 October[30][31].

Discrimination protections

In 1985 national legislation was enacted to prohibit sexual orientation based discrimination in employment, housing and other public and private provisions of services and goods.[32] Gay and lesbian people can serve openly in the armed forces. On 31 July 2012, the French National assembly added sexual identity to the protected grounds of discrimination in French law. The phrase sexual identity was used synonymous with gender identity despite some criticism from ILGA-Europe who still considered it an important step. [33]

Hate crime laws

On 31 December 2004, the National Assembly approved an amendment to existing anti-discrimination legislation, making homophobic, sexist, racist, xenophobic etc. comments illegal. The maximum penalty of a €45,000 fine and/or 12 months imprisonment has been criticized by civil liberty groups such as Reporters Without Borders as a serious infringement on free speech. But the conservative government of President Jacques Chirac pointed to a rise in anti-gay violence as justification for the measure. Ironically, an MP in Chirac's own UMP party, Christian Vanneste, became the first person to be convicted under the law in January 2006 although this conviction was later cancelled by the Cour de cassation after a refused appeal.[34][35]

The law of 30 December 2004 created the Haute autorité de lutte contre les discriminations et pour l'égalité (High Authority against Discrimination and for Equality). Title 3 and Articles 20 and 21 of the law amended the law of 29 July 1881 on freedom of the press to make provisions for more specific offenses including injury, defamation, insult, incitement to hatred or violence, or discrimination against a person or group of persons because of their gender, sexual orientation or disability.

When a physical assault or murder is motivated by the sexual orientation of the victim, the law increases the penalties that are normally given.

LGBT rights movement in France

LGBT rights organizations in France include Act Up Paris, SOS Homophobie, Arcadie, FHAR, Gouines rouges, GLH, CUARH, and L'Association Trans Aide, ( Trans Aid Association, established in September 2004)and Bi'cause (bisexual).

Discrimination in schools

In March 2008, Xavier Darcos, Minister of Education, announced a policy fighting against all forms of discrimination, including homophobia, in schools, one of the first in the world. It was one of 15 national priorities of education for the 2008–2009 school year.

The Fédération Indépendante et Démocratique Lycéenne (FIDL) (Independent and Democratic Federation of High School Students) – the first high school student union in France – has also launched campaigns against homophobia in schools and among young people.

Public opinion

The current mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, publicly revealed his homosexuality in 1998, before his first election in 2001.

In December 2006, an Ipsos-MORI Eurobarometer survey conducted showed: 62% support same-sex marriage, while 37% were opposed. 55% believed gay and lesbian couples should not have parenting rights, while 44% believe same-sex couples should be able to adopt.[36]

In June 2011, an Ifop poll found that 63% of respondents were in favour of same-sex marriage, while 58% supported adoption rights for same-sex couples.[37]

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity legal (since 1791)
Equal age of consent (before 1942 and again in 1982)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment (since 1985)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services (since 1985)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) (since 2004)
Same-sex marriage (since 2013)
Recognition of same-sex unions (since 15 November 1999)
Both joint and step adoption by same-sex couples (since 2013)
Gays allowed to serve openly in the military
Right to change legal gender
Transexuality declassified as an illness (since 2009)
Equal access to IVF and surrogacy for all couples and individuals
MSMs allowed to donate blood

See also

Further reading

  • Claudina Richards, The Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Couples: The French Perspective, The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 2 (Apr. 2002), pp. 305–324


External links

  • Scott Gunther. ISBN 0-230-22105-X

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