Same-sex marriage in France: a victory against the right

From The Socialist Alternative:

Eric Le Roy
24 Apr 2013

The passage of same-sex marriage in France on 23 April is a blow against the right, and something the left internationally should be celebrating. Hot on the heels of the important victory in New Zealand, same-sex marriage in France will add to the momentum for equal rights around the world.

The context of this victory gives it particular importance. In recent months a powerful right-wing movement against gay marriage arose in France. The conservative party, the UMP, has been using opposition to it as a way of galvanising its forces following the embarrassing 2012 defeat of then President Nicolas Sarkozy after a single term in office. The far-right Front National (FN) has also been mobilising its members, and FN deputies have been marching on demonstrations attended by hundreds of thousands.

When the (then opposition) French Socialist Party (SP) offered its electoral platform at last year’s presidential and legislative elections, same-sex marriage was one of its promised reforms. Francois Hollande and the SP won the elections fairly convincingly, ousting the arch-conservative and viciously racist Sarkozy. Same-sex marriage was an issue that the SP thought would give it a progressive veneer, while simultaneously offering no major change in the neoliberal policies of Sarkozy’s conservatives. What the SP and the left underestimated was the extent to which the right would be able to use the issue to regroup.

Same-sex marriage has since become one of the top political issues in France. The right have supported regular and steadily growing demonstrations against the reforms. These climaxed on 24 March with a huge rally in central Paris that attracted more than 300,000 people.

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