Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen is now a serious contender in next May’s French presidential election. But she may be the least of our worries.
François Fillon, now chosen by the Republicans as their candidate, is even more likely to win than Le Pen. And he is outspoken against LGBT rights and Muslims.
After Brexit and Trump, could France offer the next big political upset and another threat to the LGBT community?
Why Le Pen and Fillon are a threat to LGBT PeopleJust as a slim majority of British people voted for the Brexit, many French people are becoming Eurosceptics.
Le Pen promises to give France its sovereignty back. In fact, this is almost the only major point of difference between her and Fillon. Fillon believes in Europe.
What they agree with each other on is more scary. Both were vocal opponents of same-sex marriage equality. In fact, Fillon is supported by ‘La Manif Pour Tous’ – the viciously anti-gay, albeit comically homoerotic, shock-troops of the fight against marriage equality.
During the vote for marriage equality, they were millions in the streets to protest against LGBT equality and Fillon and Le Pen were cheering them on.
Fillon’s views on LGBT rights pose a real danger to us. He has said he is philosophically opposed to same-sex marriage. And he has stated he will rewrite family law to forbid same sex parents from using assisted procreation.
Women who don’t want rightsFrance has a serious security problem. Less educated people and those in more isolated communities often think Muslims are the problem because the majority of crimes are committed by young people from the ghettos mainly populated by people with Northern African origins.
One third of the French Muslims reject secular laws and want religious sharia law instead.
French women have fought so hard to have the right to be free, to vote, work, divorce and more that it’s unsettling to see more and more women turning their back on these universal rights.
Many French people fear their country could become the new Saudi Arabia in 50 years. In the Middle East, women fight to have the right to walk in the street uncovered. In France Muslim women fight for the right to have no rights, to become objects owned by their husbands.
Too often, French Muslim girls in poor neighborhoods come under so much social pressure they have only one option, to cover themselves. If they don’t, they are harassed by both men and other Muslim girls.
There are many cases of girls being harassed and physically abused by Muslim women in France because they chose to dress a certain way. In just one a young woman in Reims was beaten by a group of girls because she was tanning in a park in a bikini. In another case, a waitress was beaten because she was serving alcohol during Ramadan.
Neither Le Pen or Fillon are the solution. Both will create more internal conflict. But the security problem cannot be ignored.
Privacy versus securityLondon wasn’t safe before CCTV became widespread in public spaces. This is fought in France on privacy grounds. But we can no longer delay putting more cameras in France – and more police on our streets.
People need to choose safety over privacy. From reducing the unacceptable level of attacks on the Paris Metro system to protecting ourselves from terrorism, this is a vital step.
France is the world’s most popular destination for tourists – in 2013, over 87 million people visited our country which has a population of around 67 million. It is unacceptable that safety is not granted to those that give so much to the French economy. And there’s a real danger that they will stay away if France doesn’t improve security.
LGBT people too do not feel safe in France. Just being able to your partner’s hand on the Metro would make a huge difference. Even straight people are not always able to do express their love in public. Last month, a straight couple were assaulted because they were kissing. An onlooker tried to defend them but was almost killed by the young attackers.
What would Le Pen or Fillon bring?So thugs are already targeting minorities. An election victory for Le Pen or Fillon would only make that work.
As we have seen after Brexit and Trump, racist and homophobic French people would have the feeling it is ok to express their views and even be violent.
Since last year, France has seen hateful crimes against Muslims rising. French people have to fight this rampant racism. It is extremely important that school and university are used to teach empathy to students and to encourage them to fight racism, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia.
And as for the ‘immigrant problem’: French intervention in the Middle East has created problems for a long time. It is only fair we take in refugees from places we have messed up.
So what are their chances?Marine Le Pen is now tipped to be in the second round of the French presidential election next May.
Polls give her 30% of the votes. Is this number right? How many people are still ashamed of saying that they will vote for her? We saw with Trump, the white working class had been silenced but showed its defiance to the traditional political system on election day.
With former conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy eliminated from the race, Fillon is now the official Republican candidate.
Why Le Pen stands little chanceLepen will make it to the first round of the presidential election. But French people are lucky, there are two rounds to prevent extremist parties from be elected. This should stop her making it to the Élysée Palace.
Marine Le Pen will not win but even if she did, the French president has no power unless their party also controls a majority in parliament. The Front National only has two seats out of 577 in the low chamber now.
That’s not a problem for Fillon and a victory for him remains a very real threat.