Anti-Gay Attacks in France Rise by 78 Percent in 2013

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Wednesday May 14, 2014

Though same-sex marriage came to France last year, an LGBT watchdog group says the number of reported anti-gay attacks rose in 2013 by a shocking 78 percent, French news site the Local reports.

SOS Homophobie, a group that monitors the levels of homophobia in France, says in 2013 physical anti-gay attacks occurred every two days, which is a 54 percent increase since 2012. But on the whole, reported anti-gay acts in France rose by 78 percent last year, even though the country passed a gay marriage bill.

According to SOS Homophobie, they received 3,500 calls to its helpline in 2013 and just 1,977 in 2012.

"In the last twenty years the number of reports of incidents [of homophobia] received by our association have not stopped growing, but in 2013 they exploded," the group's report read.

The Local notes there is no other data from the interior or justice ministries about anti-gay attacks, thus making SOS Homophobie's figures the only data to go by.

The group says the rise in anti-gay attacks is linked to the number of people who opposed France's same-sex marriage bill, which sharply divided France and resulted in mass protests that often ended in violence. SOS Homophobie says the gay marriage bill being signed into law was a positive and historical event, but left a bitter taste in the mouths of those who against the measure.

"There's no doubt the rise in homophobic acts was linked to the context of the opposition against gay marriage," Gregory Premon, from SOS Homophobie told The Local. "Homophobic words and statements became trivialized during this period and helped legitimize insults and homophobic violence."

The group said in a statement that anti-gay speech "has become totally uninhibited in all spheres of society."

SOS Homophobie also points fingers at the anti-gay marriage group Manif Pour Tous, which was blamed for several high profile attacks on LGBT people, including the brutal beating of Wilfred de Bruijn and his boyfriend Olivier in Paris and the assault of Raphael le Clerca, a gay man who was also severely beaten in Nice.

The report also found that the number of anti-gay insults online rose from 1,723 cases in 2013 to 656 in 2012 and the number of incidents that occurred in a school increased by 25 percent.

Though not violent, there have been a few anti-gay incidents that made headlines in 2014. In March, a French public bus driver was fired after spraying water on a teen lesbian couple for kissing and last month, a French driver hired by the startup transportation company Uber was fired in Paris for allegedly refusing to pick up two men because they are gay.