Spotlight on France

Podcast: LGBT conversion therapy, crack in Paris, training France's elite

Audio 29:28
Spotlight on France episode 61
Spotlight on France episode 61 © RFI

A historic vote in parliament as French MPs unanimously approve a bill criminalising conversion therapy for LGBT+ people; no quick fix for Paris's growing crack cocaine problem; and the changing face of elite school ENA, founded 76 years ago this week.


France made history this week when MPs from every political party voted to ban conversion therapy for gay and transgendered people, a practice which the UN has compared to torture. Many victims in France suffer the scars of psychological trauma. Benoit Berthé (@TheSiward) co-founder of the collective Rien à guerir (Nothing to heal), talks about the satisfaction in helping getting attitudes to change in France and his own experience of being forced into psycho-spiritual sessions by his devout Catholic parents, who were persuaded he would happier as a heterosexual. (Listen @0'00)

Paris is facing a new crack crisis, with groups of homeless addicts making life hell for residents and businesses in the city’s northeast and its surrounding suburbs. As the city and the national government throw responsibility for the problem back and forth, France’s approach to drugs and addiction is showing its limitations. Are addicts victims in need of medical treatment, or criminals in need of punishment? France’s 1970 drug law says both, which makes it difficult to put in place risk reduction programmes, like drug consumption rooms – that have been used elsewhere for decades. (Listen @18'35)

France’s Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA), founded by Charles de Gaulle at the end of World War II, was an emblem of meritocracy at the outset. But the graduate school, famous for training presidents and senior civil servants in the art of governance, gradually became a symbol of elitism. Emmanuel Macron promised to close it in the wake of the Yellow Vest crisis, but has now settled for a reform and a change of name. (Listen @14'05)

This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani.

Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on, iTunes (link here), Google podcasts (link here), Spotify (link here), or your favourite podcast app.

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