Guest post by Brillante on incidents of violence and discrimination against lesbians in France in 2018
Brillante is a site sharing lesbian news, history and culture in France: http://brilllante.wordpress.com and https://leblogdebrillante.tumblr.com/
The young girls told the police they had been violently shoved and got their hair and clothes pulled.
Two young homosexual girls were assaulted, without being injured, and were victims of homophobic insults by a group of young people on Friday 9th February. Two of them are in custody.
The young couple, aged 17 and 18, were assaulted on a Transilien [Parisian regional train] on line J. They told the police they had been violently shoved and got their hair and clothes pulled.
The presumed attackers allegedly said things such as “Fucking lesbians”, “Are you fucking?” It continued on their journey from Pontoise (Val-d’Oise) and Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Yvelines) where the police, alerted by the victims, was waiting for the group. The young girls filed a complaint that evening. They were “not injured” but “shocked”, according to a police source.
Seven young people, all aged 17, most of them coming from Val-d’Oise, were arrested for “voluntary violences because of sexual orientation” and two of them were taken into custody on Friday night, according to that same source. The five others will be summoned later to be heard as witnesses. The investigation was instructed to the police station of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine.
12 February 2018
They will file a complaint for homophobic insults and slander. The two bakers of Guimps want to “be respected”.
This fall, they took over the only bakery in Guimps, town of 475 people near Barbezieux and the border with Charente-Maritime. Carole Loiseau and Martine Léonard are married, and since their arrival, they are living a “very difficult” situation. The bakers explain that they are victims of homophobic insults, intimidation and slander.
The accusations will be part of a nominative complaint, targeting identified people, on Wednesday at the police station of Barbezieux.
“This situation is physically and morally unbearable and it infringes upon our business. They want to affect us. The only thing we want is that it stops and that we are respected”, said Carole Loiseau who decided to stop hiding the situation she is enduring with her partner.
The insults were particularly heard in shops in the nearby towns. “What was reported to us or observed were comments like ‘That’s the bread made by the dykes'”, adds Carole Loiseau who says that “some villagers refuse our truck’s round.”
The town’s mayor, Pierre Ravail, chose to address a press release at the end of last week to “make this stop quickly.”
The mayor, who said he acted with the support of the town council and numerous inhabitants, reminded that homophobic insults and slander and punished by the law : “I have to denounce the baseness and idiocy of these actions that harm the private and professional life of my citizens, and give a really bad image of the countryside that I’m used to be proud of and that, because of a few idiots, would become a boorish and backward world.”
Besides the insults, the bakers had their electrical board vandalized in the laboratory of their business.
Carole Loiseau, a native of this region, who worked in a bank for ten years, admits that she thought about giving it all up : “I did a career change, we came here to be happy. But what we’re living is very hard. We want to stay but things need to change.” Besides the couple, the bakery has two employees.
12 March 2018
They first went to the Louxor theater to watch The NeverEnding Story again, in the 18th arrondissement. Then, they walked down the Magenta boulevard, bought themselves some flowers and had lunch in a brasserie. An “idyllic Sunday” with “some springtime air”, which was cut short for Clémence and Zoé, in their twenties. Early in the afternoon, as they kissed in a bus on line 56 a few meters away from place de la République, a man and a woman violently attack the couple. “We’re leaving because of you, there are hotels for this”, they hurled before spitting on them, pulling their hair and disappearing.
No insults nor injuries, but Zoé and Clémence, for whom there is no doubt about the homophobic aspect of the assault in the story they told on Facebook, are shocked.
“What is happening to us is not normal, but people need to realize that this is still the reality that gay people live in 2018”, said Zoé this morning to Libération. Sunday evening, not to let their assault go, the couple decided to give notice to the police and also thinks of filing a complaint. Which will inflate the statistics of LGBTphobia in France : in 2016, SOS Homophobie stated in its yearly report a 20% increase of insults and violence towards lesbians, gay men, bi people and trans people, data confirmed by the minister of the Interior for the first time in 2017 with 1084 complaints for homophobic and transphobic insults filed with the police in 2016.
12 August 2018
A young homosexual girl was assaulted on place Wilson, on August 12, as she had just kissed her girlfriend. The homophobic aspect was retained by the criminal court.
At 3.45 AM last Sunday, on place Wilson, in the town center, a young female couple had their evening ruined by a group of people. “They started with homophobic insults, because we were with an effeminate man and a crossdresser”, the victims tells in a letter to the criminal court. “He (the defendant) tried to kick me in the head twice, he hit my belly. This because I kissed my girlfriend on the lips. I can’t sleep anymore without having nightmares. I regularly have anxiety attacks.” The victim asks 950€ for psychological damage.
The defendant, a 21-year-old young man, was with three other people. He doesn’t admit the homophobic aspect of this assault : “I didn’t see them kiss. It wouldn’t have bothered me if it was the case”, he explains in front of the president of the tribunal, Romain Bonhomme.
“You told one of the men that he was a ‘faggot’, also that two girls together disgust you”, the president replied.
“Maybe I said ‘faggot’, but I don’t remember the rest.”
The security cameras alerted the local police. “We see you get hot and bothered, jump, pull your T-shirt half up your torso, adopt the on guard position like in a boxing match, what’s the point of doing that?” the president asks.
“There’s none, we were just having fun it wasn’t mean.” Curious way of having fun…
After this violent assault, the defendant rebelled against the local police. Maître Olivier Bonhoure, lawyer of the two police officers, asks for 500€ as compensation for each of the officers.
“He did that to be funny, that’s what he tells us today. I don’t see what’s funny in those insults and in that violence. Attempting to kick someone in the head twice…” analyzed the district attorney. She asks for a 10- month prison sentence, including a 2-month suspended sentence. Also to retain the homophobic aspect of this assault.
“He wanted to play the big man in front of his friends. On the video we don’t see him touching her”, claimed Maître Gil Machado Torres.
The defendant get a 12-month prison sentence including a 2-month suspended sentence. He will have to pay 250€ to each police officer and 600€ to the victim. He stays in detention.
16 August 2018
As they had just spent a “very nice weekend” in Mazères for the Manouch Muzik Festival, Anaïs and her partner Laurane had a bad surprise on Sunday night, when they were about to leave.
Those two Parisian women, who were preparing to go to their vacation resort in Narbonne (Aude), had indeed discovered the insult “dyke” carved on the hood of their car. They also noticed other damage on their without, however, being able to create a link with the clearly homophobic message.
“We filed a complaint to the police station in Narbonne for ‘vandalism’ and ‘discrimination’ because it’s not normal that such acts are still happening today”, Anaïs explains. However, she wants to underline the excellent atmosphere of the festival.
“With my partner, we didn’t feel any animosity from people. The only thing that surprised us is when, as we went back to the car to get something to eat, people who were in front of their house came to cling to the windows while we kissed. I admit that we were surprised that people played voyeurs while we had a simple moment of intimacy, like a normal couple”, said the young woman who, however, didn’t talk about this episode in her complaint.
On the other hand, by talking about this misfortune in public, Anaïs and Laurane want to “be representatives”. “Gay people victims of homophobic acts need to denounce them, because it’s unacceptable that it’s still happening today”, they repeat.
[biggest LGBT magazine in France]
22 August 2018
Homophobia, we talk about it every week on the TÊTU website, despite ourselves. Until the day it hits us directly, violently. It’s the final straw. On August 22, our journalist Marion Chatelin was victim of an assault. She decided to talk about it and we decided to support her and share her story. Her anger too : in 2018, five years after the legalization of marriage equality, LGBTphobias still haunt our daily lives, including in Paris.
For the first time in my life I was verbally and physically assaulted because of who I am : a woman, a lesbian. It didn’t happen in a street in Bordeaux, in front of a gay club in Lyon, or in the woods in Toulouse. But in Paris. In the middle of the 19th arrondissement. In a neighborhood, my neighborhood, that I visit every day. A neighborhood that’s family-friendly, young, and popular where I always felt at home. But today the situation is different.
So it was a normal evening, for Wednesday 22nd August. I’m eating dinner with my girlfriend in a restaurant near the métro station Jaurès. When we’re leaving, we kiss, when we hear a comment from a man eating outside with his wife and two children. “Don’t do that in front of the children! Go somewhere else, there are hotels for this, but not in front of the children!”, he hurls at us. Shocked, we answer that he should go somewhere else if he’s not happy with what he sees. The situation worsens, the man stands up and walks to us while copiously insulting us.
“You are disgusting! Seriously go somewhere else”, “nasty lesbians”, “get medical help”… A collection of insults, said in the outside seating area, in front of his wife and children. I must be dreaming. Several people who were “roaming” nearby arrive in front of the restaurant, probably attracted by the outpouring of insults. The father explains the situation to them and they all insult us together.
A heterosexual couple — that I could recognize on the street and that I want to thank, hoping that they’re reading this — is also sitting outside. Scandalized by what they hear, they stand up and walk to the man. They kiss first, heartily. A “French kiss”, a real one. Before hurling : “You’re a loser, you don’t understand anything about life, you don’t understand anything about love!” This punchline will stay engraved in my memory, like their attitude, which deeply moved me. A young woman passing by on her bicycle also steps forward, asking the man to shut up and leave us alone. Thanks to her, thanks to them.
We decide to cross the street, completely stunned by what we heard. We hug and we realize that we’ve just been insulted. Hate speech which resonates, upsets, paralyzes. My eyes closed, I breathe deeply. I open them and I see the man on the sidewalk across from us surrounded with the same men. He shouts and spits towards us. This time, it makes my blood boil. I give him the finger.
They all run to us, screaming, while his wife and children stay at the table. The father, in a blind rage, threatens me with rape : “You’ll see, I’m going to rape you, you’ll understand what it’s like!” he bellows. He slaps me immediately after. One of the young men tries to hold him back from hitting me, but he struggles violently and punches me in the face. I stagger. My girlfriend screams and leapt to him. I come to and try to stop her.
I wouldn’t be able to explain how they all scattered, but we ended up alone in front of the lock of Jaurès, completely in shock. The police arrived very quickly, certainly called by a witness at the restaurant. We filed a complaint the morning after.
Then comes the time to realize. To process the fact that I was almost “lucky”. Nothing broken, no hospital, no stitches. Jordan, Aurélie, Nathanaël, Damien, and everyone else got at least three stitches. Some were raped, others were sprayed with bleach, or tied up and abandoned in a forest. A transgender person died.
Since the end of June 2018 — when I arrived in TÊTU — I write about homophobic assaults at least once a week, sometimes three, sometimes four. When I’m writing those lines, it starts again : a series of homophobic attacks in Besançon. Some victims have important physical trauma. I’m tired. And deeply angry.
That’s a fact : in France in 2018, homophobia is everywhere. According to the annual report of the organization SOS Homophobia, homophobic physical assaults have increased by 15% in 2017. Homophobic acts globally increased by 4.8% compared to 2016. I would never have thought that I would tell my own story here. I would never have thought that I, too, would be a number to count.
3 September 2018
Several homosexual couples were targeted by spurts of paint and bleach during the weekend of the street market in Lille. There’s no doubt about the homophobic aspect of the assaults, according to the victims.
Aurélie celebrated her 32nd birthday in a very unpleasant way on Sunday, as she walked peacefully in the aisles of the street market in Lille, with her 24-year-old partner.
Late in the afternoon, around 5 PM, as the couple arrived to the crossing of rue Jeanne d’Arc and boulevard de la Liberté, the two young women were sprayed with liquids. “I was with my partner and I felt something wet a first time. A few meters further I felt that I had bleach on my arm”, Aurélie says. “Then five minutes after, my partner received black paint.”
Very quickly, Aurélie and her partner realize that they have paint and bleach on their bodies and clothes. But it was impossible for them to identify the people who sprayed them : “In the middle of the street market, it’s not easy to know where it comes from. We continued on our way and we were hit a third time. It happened in a place where there were a lot of people. It was always from the back or from the side”, Aurélie says. Without knowing at first why they had been targeted that way among the crowd, the young women understood a bit later, by noticing on social media that one or more homosexual couples suffered the same fate in the street market.
“We were in the middle of the crowd and we were really the only two people to receive paint and bleach. I have my doubts, but I saw another testimony and that’s when I thought that it wasn’t trivial”, reports Aurélie, who has no doubt anymore about the homophobic aspect of the assaults. “When we realize that it’s a homophobic assault, we are angry. We feel defenseless in the middle of the crowd and when we are specifically targeted, we feel a mix of anger, apprehension and shame. In general it’s verbal or with stares, that’s the first time that it happens to me”, she concluded.
Aurélie plans to file a complaint, however she doesn’t have “much hope” of finding the perpetrator or perpetrators of these assaults. But at least in a “symbolic” way. “As soon as they file a complaint and an investigation is launched, we will file a complaint with them and bring a civil case”, said the organization Stop Homophobie who informs that a third couple, men this time, was also sprayed with bleach and black paint on Sunday, in the same time slot.
31 October 2018
The assault was denounced on Twitter by the organization “Urgence Homophobie” who explains that a woman was beaten up in the street on Halloween night, in Paris, after kissing her partner.
An investigation was launched on charges of “violence committed because of sexual orientation in public transport” after a lesbophobic assault on Wednesday in Paris, franceinfo learned from a judiciary source. The investigation was instructed to the neighborhood police in the 9th arrondissement.
The assault was denounced on the social network Twitter by the organization “Urgence Homophobie” who explains that a women was beaten up in the street on Halloween night, near the Grands Boulevards, carrefour de Chateaudun, after kissing her partner, which caused 21 days of temporary work interruption. According to the organization, she will also need surgery for her face.
“Every time there is an attack, we feel like this is going further into ignominy, into violence”, Guillaume Mélanie, president of Urgence Homophobie, said on Thursday evening. “It’s really getting worse and worse. Now we think : ‘We’re not going to kiss anymore, we’re not going to hold hands anymore”, but it’s not normal actually, normally we shouldn’t be the ones giving ground, we shouldn’t stop living normally.”
Guillaume Mélanie said he referred to the mayor Anne Hidalgo’s cabinet who referred to the prosecutor. “This is unbearable, we need to give a strong, concrete example, we need to work on education, culture, prevention and also on applying laws and on legal means”, the president of Urgence Homophobie said. He was assaulted because of his sexual orientation two weeks ago.