Lecture of Yves QUENTIN at the Euro Pride 2011 in Rome:
About the life of Christian LGBT people in France.
Contrary to popular belief, French public opinion is quite tolerant and open to LGBT people. Most young people in France have gay or lesbian friends. A lot of them attend Pride Marches all over France or go partying in gay clubs.
Having said that, homophobic violence and hate crimes are still pretty high in France and are committed by all kinds of people.
Why is it that we only have a limited version of civil partnership? How long will it take France to pass a law on gay marriage and gay parenthood when neighbouring countries (Spain and Belgium) have already done so? Are French politicians too conservative, is the French RC Church too influential, are LGBT groups ineffective?
We certainly have a very conservative government at the moment and our Members of Parliament are not ready to face the opposition of the RC Church and their more conservative voters.
We have a paradoxical situation in France where the Church and the State have been supposedly separated since 1905 and where the number of priests and church-goers is rapidly decreasing but where politicians still pay a lot of attention to what Church officials say.
French bishops and priests, who may be open to lesbians and gays in private, will never dare to publicize their support in public. They are still very vulnerable to what the Vatican might say. Consequently, few LGBT people are openly accepted as such and fewer are given full responsibilities in the Church. Homosexuality still remains a taboo subject.
The French Protestant Churches are generally more supportive and have recently organized a conference in Strasbourg to consider how to bless same-sex couples.The problem is that the religious arguments delivered by the RC Church are still widely used by a lot of people (even non religious ones) to oppose LGBT rights.
Yet, even in the Church, things are changing. A lot of priests, monks and nuns, and the Christian press, are attentive to the plight of Christian LGBT people and they even go out their way to help them individually. Here is the front page of amajor Christian weekly magazine, issued last week. A pink cross with the words “Catholic gays, how they dare speak out”. This article would have been unthinkable only 3 or 4 years ago!
is a national Christian group for LGBT people. It was created 40 years ago. In 4 decades we have noticed strong changes in French society, not least among ordinary Christians.
With 600 members (even if not all of us are gay activists!) we have become more visible and vocal. In our group, a few priests have led lesbian and gay “blessing” ceremonies. We have learnt to read the bible in a less fundamentalist way but we deplore that the RC church still refers to two or three outdated verses in the Bible to ban our lifestyle.
We have close and friendly links with smaller Protestant groups and also with the Jewish and Muslim LGBT communities. For example, we are currently organising a joint trip to Israel and Palestine that will take place in November this year.
We work hand in hand with non religious LGBT groups to fight the Church's most backward decisions. We often get invited in schools – even RC schools - to talk about homosexuality in an attempt to stop homophobia and prevent teenagers' suicides. Last year some of our members took part in a kiss-in, organized by various gay organizations, outside Notre-Dame in Paris, to protest against religious bigotry against homosexualityand ask Church officials to recognize that there is such a thing as a loving, committed relationship between two women or two men.
To conclude we, in David & Jonathan, proclaim our faith in a loving God, we insist that homosexuality and faith are compatible, that, despite the Vatican's official position on homosexuality, our sexuality is part of God's mysterious plan,that we do not destroy family values, and that our lifestyle can benefit society at large.