The French National Assembly began debating a Bill on marriage equality on January 29. The proposed legislation was announced on November 7 2012. The introduction of the Bill has sharpened the debate within French society around the rights of LGBT people. LGBT organisations and supporters have escalated the movement for equality, pushing for President François Hollande and the government of Jean-Marc Ayrault to go further with the legislation in addressing discrimination against the LGBT community more broadly. This is response is important in the context of criticisms that have been made against the movements for marriage equality in the US and Australia. Specifically thatthese movements promote the campaign for marriage equality while ignoring the other oppression and discrimination experienced by the LGBT community.
Below is a rough translation of the call for the Demonstration for Equality held on December 16. The call was initiated by the interassociation LGBT which brings together 58 LGBT organisations across France. The original in French is available here. Organisers estimated that 150, 000 people attended the December 16 mobilisation (the police estimated 50, 000 participants).
I'll be posting more material about the campaign in France soon.
Call - Demonstration for Equality on December 16 in Paris
For equality now, against discrimination all the time!
On November 7, the Bill on the opening of marriage to same-sex couples and the recognition of homosexual parents was presented to the Council of Ministers. Parliamentary hearings started the next day in the French National Assembly. Fourteen years after the passing of Civil Solidarity Pacts (pacte civil de solidarité - Pacs), the legislative march towards Equality for all resumes at last.
France designates lesbian, gay, bi and the trans (LGBT) citizens as second-class citizens in refusing their equal access to rights - and the only reason is their sexual orientation or their gender identity. Eleven countries have opened the right to the marriage for same-sex couples, including six member states of the European Union. The only consequence was equal rights.
Opening marriage, and allowing these couples to adopt, as the bill in its current form envisages, is a step towards the lifting of some of the forms of discrimination which the LGBT community is subjected to today. It is a progress but we cannot be satisfied.
We claim that all of the measures which François Hollande proposed during his election campaign belong in this Bill. This law should not be circumscribed with a law on the marriage: it must make it possible for LGBT people to be regarded as full citizens on a purely individual basis, in couple, within their family and in the whole company. The members of Parliament must open medically assisted procreation (PMA) to all women, the access to adoption for non-married couples, and give to same-sex couples the possibility of creating a bond of filiation with their children which are the same as those available to heterosexual couples, whether they are in or out of marriage, today. We also ask for a reform of the division of parental authority so that all children are protected and all parents recognized whatever the family structure.
François Hollande was committed to respecting the basic rights of the Trans people with a legislative reform allowing them to have identity papers that conform with their affirmed gender without having to undergo sterilization or medical treatment. We remind him of it’s urgency and necessity.
The law will put to an end institutional discrimination that victimises LGBT people and protects today all the remarks and behaviours of lesbophobes, homophobes, biphobes and transphobes. We do not forget that this daily discrimination is a factor of discomfort, in particular for young people who record high rates of suicide attempts, risk taking and HIV infection. Since the debate is in the public square, the most defamatory remarks on behalf of the opponents to this Bill is being brought to our attention. Those who rise against this social project are the same ones as those which were opposed yesterday to access abortion, the right to contraception, the recognition of the divorce and to Pacs.
This is why we will protest on December 16 for quality, for social progress but also against all discrimination, all hate speech and all the forms of obscurantism.
* * * First signatories: Inter-LGBT / Coordination Lesbienne en France / SOS-Homophobie / Centre LGBT Paris-IDF / ACTHE / ID-Trans’/ AIDES / Collectif Oui oui oui / Les Enfants d’Arc-en-ciel / APGL / ADFH / Homoboulot / ALGO / Embrayage / HomoSfèRe / Mobilisnoo / Comin-G / Gare ! / Flag ! / Popingays / Les Panthères Roses / La Nef des Fiertés / Les Enfants de Cambacéres / MAG-Jeunes LGBT / Les Effronté-e-s / Osez le Féminisme / Cadac / Collectif National Droits des Femmes / Ardhis / David et Jonathan / Beit Haverim / Carrefour des Chrétiens Inclusifs / Appel pour le Christianisme Social / Fédération l’Autre Cercle / Contact Paris-IDF / Association Equal / Bi-Cause / Collectif LGBT ADFE – Français du monde / GLUP / LGBT Nord-IDF / Dures à Queer / Gouines Comme un Camion / Caélif / Melting-Pomme Caen / LGP Lyon / LGP Montpellier-LR / LGP Bordeaux / Centre LGBT Normandie / AEC Toulouse / Les Bascos – Boarritz / LGP Lille / LGP Marseille / Coordination InterPride France / SOS-Racisme / LMDE / UFAL / CNAFAL / FIDL / UNL / UNEF / FSU / Union syndicale Solidaires / EELV / Jeunes Ecologistes / Jeunes Radicaux de Gauche / Centr’égaux / GayLib / La Diagonale / Jeunes Socialistes / HES / Collectif Fier-e-s et Révolutionnaires / Front de Gauche (PCF, Parti de Gauche, Gauche unitaire, Fase, Convergences et alternative, République et Socialisme, Gauche anticapitaliste) / NPA
Not-signatories but supporting and calling with the demonstration: FSGL / ASMF / Les Oublié-e-s de la Mémoire / Syndicat de la Magistrature / LDH / UNSA / SE-UNSA / UNSA-Education / CGT / Parti Socialiste / PRG
 Pacs are a form of civil union that was established under law in November 1999 which confers onto participants some of the legal rights granted under marriage including filing joint income tax returns and the impôt sur la fortune (wealth tax) being applied to the joint assests of couple. From it’s inception, Pacs have been accessed by larger numbers of opposite sex couples than same-sex couples, as of 2010 there were 9, 143 same-sex couples in a Pac, compared to 196, 415 opposite sex couples in a Pac.