On the occasion of the celebration in France of forty years of the decriminalisation of homosexuality, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced her intention to create a new post of ambassador for LGBT rights and to establish a dedicated fund of €3 million to enable the opening of new “LGBT centres.”
The government has chosen to act on this symbolic anniversary; the historical reality however is a bit different. The law of 4 August 1982 did not “decriminalize” homosexuality in France in the strict sense of the word but abolished a law dating from the Vichy regime that set a different sexual majority for homosexuals. The crime of sodomy had disappeared from the first penal code of 1791, and convictions of homosexuals were therefore based on other charges, such as “public indecency,” defined by Article 330 of the penal code of 1810.
For Elisabeth Borne, the defence of LGBT rights is now a priority ideological battle: “the battle of attitudes has not yet been won,” she explained.
The ‘LGBT rights’ ambassador is to be appointed before the end of the calendar year. His mission will be to coordinate “the action of the ministry of Europe and foreign affairs for the protection against discrimination and the promotion of LGBT+ rights,” and to carry “the voice of France” on these issues. One of the stated objectives is to defend “the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality and trans identity.”
At the same time, the aim of the LGBT centres is to help LGBT people throughout the country who have been harassed, insulted, or threatened with death. By 2021, these centres will have helped 6,000 people. There are already 35 centres; the dedicated fund is intended to open ten more. The aim is to have at least two centres in each region of France and at least one centre in each overseas region.
At the request of a Socialist senator who tabled a bill to this effect, the prime minister said she was studying the possibility of “reparation” for victims convicted of homosexuality between 1945 and 1982.
This announcement is part of a wider offensive by the French government in favour of LGBT rights. For example, the publicly funded Planned Parenthood organisation used the summer to run an advertising campaign on contraception and parenthood aimed at transgender people, featuring a pregnant man and a veiled woman using the gender-neutral pronoun “iel” (he/she).
The campaign caused a stir in public opinion because of its outrageous nature.