France: President Hollande caves in to right-wing hysteria on family law

France’s Socialist government has dropped plans to update family law after protests by conservative groups.

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Andrew Coates blogs at Tendance Coatesy

“(Reuters) – France’s Socialist government dropped plans on Monday to update family law this year after huge weekend protests by conservatives against gay-friendly reforms they say harm traditional families.

“The government tried on Monday to reassure the protesters, who numbered over 100,000 in Paris and Lyon on Sunday, that the new law would not legalise assisted procreation for lesbian couples or surrogate motherhood for gay men who wanted children.

“But when Socialist lawmakers insisted they would amend the planned bill to include those reforms, the government announced the draft law – which would also define the legal rights of step-parents in second marriages – needed more work.

“The government will not submit a family reform bill before the end of the year,” the prime minister’s office said.

“Sunday’s protesters, many of the Catholics but also some Muslims, tapped continued resentment against the legalization of gay marriage last year to pressure the government not to go further and allow ways to help gays have their own children.”

Reactions have not been slow in coming.

Le Parisien reports (freely adapted):

“Ludovine the Rochère, (the ultra-Catholic leader of the Manif pour tous), was glad, “”What stood out in this bill was that it was not conducive to the best interests of children and the family.”

“For Yannick Moreau, UMP (main right-wing oppositon)  : “It’s a great victory for the popular mobilisation, quiet and peaceful (…) But we must remain vigilant: there are still ambiguities on the LDCs, the GPA with the circular Taubira which is still not repealed, or  the experiment with ‘gender’ (theory) in 600 of our schools with the  ABCD of equality.”

“Christian Jacob, the leader of UMP deputies quipped: “In government, we went from cock up to panic. That said, the real victory will be for us when the government has abandoned its family policy.”

“The left has denounced the betrayal of the government in yielding to “extremists.”

“Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Co-President of  the  Parti de Gauche (PG), said that the left was ‘deceived, repudiated” because “with the PS, the right is cajoled, the bosses’ association, the MEDEFis  admired the church is blessed (…) Our time will come. I call for a severe punishment on the government in (this year’s) elections.

“The National Secretary of Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EELV – part of the government) Emmanuelle Cosse, said, “The day after the mobilisation of the reactionary camp this decision is of great concern. WE hope the government will go back on its decision.”

For Inter-LGBT, which represents lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals, the announcement came as an unpleasant surprise. The association stated late on Monday that the Hollande government was “no longer fulfilling their commitments: this follows a row of  setbacks and betrayals over the last months.” Here.

By contrast, the ruling Parti Socialiste saluted this as a “good decision”.

Reports indicate that the government considers that this dispute diverts attention from its ‘pact of responsibility’ with employers.

An ideology of fear and loathing

The Manif pour tous, the Day of Rage, have, in just two weeks, shown that the French far-right is able to get people out in the streets. They come after a year of growing extreme rightist protest.

In some respects there are similarities with the last right-wing popular movement in France, the 1950s Poujadism. In 1956 his Union de Defense Commercants et Artisans (4000,000 members) won  51 Parliamentary seats with  11 per cent of the vote.

He stood up for rural France, opposed “Americanisation”, stood for maintaining the French Empire (above all,  in North Africa) but above all railed without end against taxation and the malfeasance of the French state.

Poujade’s movement attracted anti-Semites and the far-right, but was not itself fascist.

The Bonnets rouges have denounced taxation, and ecological taxes in particular. The conspiracy theorists of the  followers of Dieudonné echo the “anti-politics”  the Poujadists. His racism, under the name of ‘anti-Zionism’ has attracted traditional Catholic right and some touched by Islamist ideology.

There is a widespread disaffection with politics and the “system”.

There is, however, little sign of the organised anti-Parliamentarianism that Ian Birchall (hat-tip Paul Flewers) describes as a mark of Poujadism.

A better comparison perhaps would be with the Mouvement de l’École libre in 1984.

This was organised by the state-subsidised French Catholic schools (École libre), in defence of attempts by the education Minister Savary to bring them under some kind of public control (Projet de loi Savary). The Law envisaged the creation of “grand service public unifié et laïc de l’éducation nationale” – a national secular education service.

That year, after demonstrations across the country,  in June, these movement attracted between 2 million and 850,000 supporters to a Paris march.

Apart from the mainstream French right-wing, the Front National was prominent in the ranks of protesters.

A key aspect of its campaign was opposition to French secularism (laïcité).

Soon afterwards President François Mitterrand withdrew the proposals.

The latest Manif pour Tous stems from another religious origin: the defence of the ‘family’ against “la théorie du genre” and LGBT rights.

If anybody is in any doubt about the religious basis of the hysteria against this, and against LGBT rights, they should look at this site, famille chriétienne.

It is no coincidence they also rant against the alleged secularism of the present education minister, La laïcité de combat de Vincent Peillon.

An Islamic site, Islam & Info, equals the Christians in broadcasting hatred of sexual equality and gay rights.

They post a video showing little boys being educated into being “good mothers” (“a vidéo montre que les petits garçons apprennent à être de bonnes “mères”).

President Hollande’s capitulation to these forces is unlikely to go down well with one core constituency of his party, teachers.

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