Paris to declare itself an ‘LGBTQI+ freedom zone’

Paris city hall wants a truly rainbow capital
Paris city hall wants a truly rainbow capital AFP - LUDOVIC MARIN

In a symbolic gesture to embrace sexual and gender minorities, the city of Paris marked International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia by announcing it will declare itself an "LGBTQI+ freedom zone". It also hosted the Global Conference on the rights and inclusion of LGBTI+ youth.


Paris city hall said on Monday that it wanted to show "its strong international support for [LGBTQI+] people under threat" and would present a motion to declare the entire capital a "LGBTQI+ freedom zone" at the next Paris council meeting in early June.

The initiative follows in the footsteps of the European Parliament which adopted a similar resolution in March in reaction to the "LGBT ideology-free zones" declared by a hundred local authorities in Poland.

In addition to this symbolic declaration, the project includes "concrete measures for the protection and support of LGBTQI+ people" as well as training programmes for officers of the future Paris municipal police.

City hall also reaffirmed its support for "equal sexual and reproductive rights for LGBTQI+ people, in particular universal and free medically-assisted procreation (MAP) for female couples, as well as its position in favour of banning conversion therapies in France".

It unveiled a commemorative plaque in tribute to Jean Diot and Bruno Lenoir, "the last two Frenchmen known to have been sentenced to death for homosexual practice".

Anti-LGBT acts down by 15% in 2020

According to the latest official figures published by the interior ministry, anti-LGBT incidents officially went down by 15 percent in 2020, for the first time since 2016.  

Some 1,590 victims of homophobic or transphobic crime were recorded in France in 2020, compared to 1,870 in 2019.

Between 2018 and 2019, the number of recorded incidents had shot up by 36 percent (1,870 complaints lodged).

The drop in 2020 was largely due to the series of lockdowns brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and which limited human interaction.

But also because fewer people registered complaints.

The ministry itself warned that the figures were “misleading” because they are based on the number of complaints registered and “victims rarely register complaints".

“The circulation of Covid-19 has deterred people from moving around and getting together,” Matthieu Gatipon-Bachette, spokesperson for the Inter-LGBT association, told France 24.

More victims in family setting

If the overall number of anti-LGBT attacks has officially decreased, anti-LGBT hatred and violence within families or collective housing has gone up.

“There have never been so many domestic violence situations to deal with,” Gatipon-Bachette said.

Associations supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have been under increased pressure to find accomodation for young people thrown out on the street because of their sexual orientation.

“For some young people, their coming-out to their family has gone very badly,” Gatipon-Bachette added.

“They usually have a support network in their school and from their friends. But with the various lockdowns, they found themselves alone and some were confronted with violent reactions when they came out. Others were even thrown out of their homes by their families.”

Police training needed

Another concern is that "police don't always record the homophobic nature of attacks," Gatipon-Bachette explained.

This is despite measures included in a three-year plan which the government unveiled last year aimed at further developing training for LGBT referents within police stations and gendarmerie brigades to improve the way victims are treated.

Tired with waiting, grassroots associations have come up with their own initiatives. The LGBT+ group Flag has developped an app to help victims anonymously report violence. Once reported they are guided towards public bodies or aid groups for help.

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