On April 23, 2013, after almost seven months of intense political dispute covered extensively by the media, the law granting same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt children jointly was approved by the French National Assembly. This date crowned a ten year long struggle for French LGBT organizations whose lists this demand had topped, though it was certainly not their sole request.
A month later, the first marriage between two men was held in Montpellier, in Southern France. Since then, about four percent of all marriages performed in France have been between same-sex partners.
However, that process was never smooth. Indeed, the Socialist government who introduced the bill couldn’t conceal its hesitations and sometimes reluctance. For instance, as soon as the debates started, President Hollande proposed a conscience clause to allow public officials who opposed gay marriage the ability to not perform them once the bill passed. Overall, few members of the government showed a great deal of support for the bill. Many opponents of the law, mostly affiliated with the Catholic Church, staged massive protests in Paris and throughout the country, which counted amongst the largest demonstrations of any kind over the past thirty years.
In my paper, I would like to address the following questions : to what extent has the adoption of this law impacted the demands and strategies of the French LGBT movement since 2013 ? How has the visibility of LGBT issues and LGBT public officials in the public sphere been impacted by the social and political context in which the debate took place?
Witnesses have reported that many LGBT activists have experienced demotivation since the passage of the bill, and that a number of them have even disengaged from their organizations. Nevertheless, some topics which were relegated behind the fight for marriage have emerged over the last three years, mostly trans* rights issues and reproductive rights for LGBT people (including artificial insemination with sperm donors for female same-sex couples and gestational surrogacy for male same-sex couples).
We would like to focus on two specific yet mainstream organizations which have played a big part in the fight for marriage, and as they were considered legitimate representatives of the LGBT movement by public authorities. The first is Inter-LGBT, a federation of LGBT organizations which organizes every year the annual Marche des Fiertés LGBT in Paris (LGBT Pride) and comes up with a motto supposedly summarizing demands from the LGBT community. The second one is Homosexualités & Socialisme, a LGBT group close to the French Socialist Party, a counterpart to the Stonewall Democrats for the Democratic Party. These two organizations had a huge influence on the way the French Parti Socialiste have dealt with LGBT issues in the last thirty years.