Yet another anti-gay march in Paris, organized by the Catholic Church, the religious right, and France’s opposition conservative party UMP, has gone terribly violent, as the French anti-gay movement becomes increasingly taken over by white supremacists, and other violent far-right extremists.
The AP documents yesterday’s violence in these vivid photos.
France recently legalized gay marriages, as part of a campaign promise made by French President François Hollande. The first marriage of a gay couple will take place this coming Wednesday.
The increasing violence at the ongoing anti-gay protests are more than just an embarrassment for France’s nascent religious right, which in France is run by the Catholic Church. It’s also a shameful black eye for America’s religious right, which up until now took pride in its close ties to France’s anti-gay movement.
France’s UMP opposition party sought to take advantage of anti-gay hate
But the violence is also an embarrassment for France’s UMP opposition party (for lack of a better comparison, France’s version of the US Republican party), that latched on to the organized anti-gay prejudice of the Catholic church and the religious right in an attempt to foment a larger opposition to France’s socialist government. The head of the UMP, Jean-François Copé, attended Sunday’s violent anti-gay protest.
The UMP’s desperate grab for any issue to galvanize opposition recalls how Republicans in America latched on to the stimulus, then health care reform, and then Benghazi in an ongoing effort to find anything that might permit them to take down President Obama.
An even more direct comparison is to America’s Republican party, not in 2013, but in the late 1970s, and especially at the time of Reagan’s first election in 1980, when the GOP tied its horse to the religious right’s jihad against gay Americans. Over 30 years later, America’s Republicans are still trying to untie the religious-right Gordian Knot – some would say noose – from around their political necks, as they see themselves increasingly viewed as the party of hate and intolerance.
A taste of the Frankenstein monster the Catholic Church, the religious right, and France’s UMP have created, via the Guardian:
The most radical protesters have grouped together under the banner “Printemps Français” (French spring), a loose grouping of traditionalists and far-right associations, which the French interior ministry last week threatened to outlaw.
Tensions were exacerbated by the suicide last Tuesday of a far-right essayist, Dominique Venner, who shot himself at the altar of Notre Dame cathedral on Tuesday after leaving a blogpost railing against immigration and the “vile” law legalizing same-sex marriage.
Anti-gays ignore govt. call to leave children at home, due to expected violence
Things have gotten so bad in France that the government urged anti-gay protesters not to bring children to yesterday’s anti-gay march, as the threat of violence had increased past the point of safety for people so young. Sadly, many Catholic, religious right protesters refused to heed the call, and brought their children, yet again, into the midst of violence.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls warned protesters on Saturday not to bring children along because of violence he feared after far-right militants clashed with police at recent rallies. He mobilised 4,500 police to secure the event.
Many parents ignored his warnings and some picnicked with children on the lawn at the rally. “Look, it’s perfectly safe here,” said Elisabeth Huet from Orleans, who marched along with her adult daughter and three small grandchildren.
You’ll recall that at previous anti-gay protests organized by the Catholic Church and the religious right, French anti-gay protesters urged their countrymen to use their small children as human shields against the riot police. So it is perhaps no surprise that they are again putting children in harm’s way, under the guise of “protecting children” against gay people.
Catholics, religious right refuse to issue clear-throated condemnation of violence
Also sad has been the Catholic and religious right reluctance to condemn the violence perpetrated by their fellow marchers and sympathizers. The Catholic church and the religious right have brought anti-gay animus in France to an all-time high, resulting in numerous recent hate crimes against gays and gay organizations.
Sadly, the leader of the anti-gay protests had recently made comments that some took as a call to violence – “[President] Hollande wants blood, and he’s going to get it. Everyone is furious. We live in a dictatorship.”- and following her inappropriate comments, the violence came.
Even worse, France’s top Catholic archbishop recently appeared to make excuses for the violence as well.
The French anti-gay movement has now begun to embrace terrorism as well.
We know what motivates the Catholic church and France’s rather small religious right (keep in mind that France is not nearly as religious as the US). But it’s sad that France’s UMP party has decided to ally itself with bigots and homophobes – and now violent white supremacists. And even when France’s religious right leader is forced to abandon the protest – she didn’t show up yesterday, because things were getting so out of hand in her own movement – the head of France’s UMP proudly lent his party’s credence to the intolerant extremism that is growing in their country.
I don’t expect the Catholic church to learn a thing – nor France’s religious right, as it’s influenced by America’s hateful religious right. But the UMP has often been considered more liberal than America’s GOP. For the UMP to ally itself with a movement based on hate, and a movement now co-opted by the far-right of French society (and keep in mind that in Europe, the far-right is way farther to the right than our far-right in America – think David Duke more than Pat Buchanan), is just plain sad.
It’s one thing to want to win at the polls. It’s another to be willing to tear apart your country, and unleash some of Europe’s worst demons, in order to accomplish it.
More on France’s upcoming gay marriage: