Gay marriage opponent Christine Boutin retires from politics
Issued on: Modified:
Christine Boutin, a right-wing politician best-known for her outspoken opposition to France's gay marriage law, has announced her retirement from active politics.
The 73-year-old former housing minister and presidential candidate announced she was standing down from the last elected position she holds - as a departmental councillor - at a press conference at the headquarters of her small Christian Democrat Party on Saturday.
A devout Catholic, she declared proudly that she had never betrayed her convictions, despite being "ridiculed" and "mocked for being old-fashioned".
First elected an MP in 1986, she attracted attention in 1998 for her robust opposition to the Socialist government's proposed civil unions, arguing, notably in one five-hour speech throughout which she brandished a Bible, that it would encourage homosexuality.
Gay marriage opposition
To no-one's surprise, she also opposed a later Socialist government's same-sex marriage bill, at one point calling homosexuality an "abomination", a phrase that won her a conviction for incitement to hatred or violence.
On Saturday she said she regretted "hurting some people's feelings during the debate on homosexual marriage".
But she had no regrets about calling for a vote for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in this year's presidential election so as to ensure that the eventual winner, Emmanuel Macron, would win "the lowest possible score".
Christine Boutin was an MP from 1986 to 2007 and housing minister under right-wing president Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2009.
She stood unsuccessfully for the presidency in 2002.
She will remain honorary president of her party and is to spend two days a week studying theology.
On Saturday she expressed dismay at the spate of accusations of sexual harassment in the wake of the scandal about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, saying they risk harming relations between the sexes and that "ribaldry" was part of "French identity".