the french example: the rocky road to same

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
• Predominant use by heterosexual couples
4/ Re-launch of the debate triggered by social and political
• 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
• 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
• 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.