THE FRENCH EXAMPLE: THE ROCKY ROAD TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE I – From tolerance to protection of LGBTI persons 1/ Decriminalization & abolition of discriminative laws • French Revolution decriminalizes homosexual relations between consenting adults (1791) • Abolition of the remaining discriminative measures (1982) • First country in the world to remove transsexualism from list of diseases (2009) 2/ From passive recognition to active protection • Context: “les années SIDA” • Criminalization of discrimination (1985) and offensive comments concerning sexual orientation (2004) II – From individuals to couples: The recognition of same-sex couples through the civil solidarity pact “PACS” 1/ Adoption of the PACS law in 1999… • Unsuccessful attempts between 1990 and 1998 • What is the PACS : a civil union, open to homosexual and heterosexual couples, which gives a status and confers social and tax advantages to contractors ; but creates no family relationships, since it has no effect on affiliation and does not allow for adoption. 2/ Heated parliamentary debate & some demonstrations • Controversy in Parliament, 1 year of procedure • Arguments of opponents: to prevent a “destruction of society” and “an objectification of the child subject to the will of adults”. Same arguments will be used against same-sex marriage. 3/ An imperfect progress leading to new demands for actual marriage • A landmark in legislation, but quickly considered as an expedient • Predominant use by heterosexual couples 4/ Re-launch of the debate triggered by social and political factors • Social motivations : acceptance of PACS and diversification of the notion of family • Political motivations: appropriation by left wing parties and candidates at the presidential elections in 2007 and 2012 • Electoral commitment to open marriage and adoption to same-sex couples, turned into a government draft bill in November 2012 III – “Marriage for all”: a milestone and a success after a lively debate 1/ Equality of rights, at last • Justifications : equality and reality • Content of the law of 17 May 2013: extension to same-sex couples of the provisions of Civil Code concerning marriage and adoption. No modification of the principles, procedure, rights and obligations attached. 2/ Another legislative debate opposing left & right parties • Filibustering and use of a whole range of parliamentary tools. Final adoption on 23 April 2013 by 331/225/10. • Extreme polarization between left and right, exacerbated by the political context. 3/ A virulent public opposition during & after the adoption of the law • An exceptional mobilization and organization of popular opposition by the “Demonstration for all” group. • Peaceful opposition in the beginning, marred by acts of violence and multiplication by 3 of homophobic acts • Pursuit of mobilization after the adoption of the law, with a focus against assisted reproduction. 4/ The reasons for the opposition and how they were tackled • The divisive nature of the subject and ethical questions on “right to a child vs right of a child” expert consultations and parliamentary hearings • An insufficient public consultation? not according to French law • The reflection of a social and economic discontent IV – Conclusion: 1 year after, success & appeasement • • In 2013: 7000 same-sex marriages / 230000 heterosexual marriages Net majority of public opinion (55%) for this reform Tricky process, but rule of law demands to take into account social realities and breaches of equality between citizens.