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France mulls plan for gay retirement homes

Ben McPartland · 29 Nov 2013, 09:10

Published: 29 Nov 2013 09:10 GMT+01:00

The report was put together by two LGBT associations tasked with looking into how later life for members of the country’s gay population can be improved.

The associations made 23 proposals to France’s Minister for the Elderly, Michèle Delaunay the stand-out one being the creation of state-run retirement homes specifically for gay people," French daily Le Figaro reports.

The motivation for the homes would be to protect elderly gay people from homophobia, the gay-rights associations say. 

In the proposal the associations say the specialist homes would also be able to cater for the high proportion of HIV positive people among the elderly gay population, who require special care.

According to the Le Figaro which reported on the proposals, Delaunay has greeted the suggestion with a “favourable neutrality”.

The minister would look upon gay retirement homes in the same way as certain faith based accommodation for the elderly that already exist in France where residents are united by a certain set of beliefs, Le Figaro states quoting sources close to Delaunay.

Retirement or nursing homes based on common values or history already exist in France. There are homes specifically single women and others for those who spent their lives working in certain industries like French railways.

A retirement home designed for gay people is already in the process of being built in France. Earlier this year The Local reported how the mayor of a tiny village in the Aude region of southern France was angered after unwittingly approving plans for a ‘gay village.’

The mayor said the plan by British firm The Villages Group to gear the luxury village towards retired or holidaying gay people had been kept in the closet. 

The difference between this ‘gay village’ in the Aude and the proposed retirement homes for homosexuals put forward this week by the LGBT associations is that it is a luxury scheme run by a private company and not funded by the state.

For some sociologists the creation of retirement homes for certain specific communities is an inevitable development for an increasingly aging population.

“When it comes to old age, we no longer have the strength to leave our world to start a new story. All our lives we are faced with changes and we adapt to them. But in the twilight of our existence we cling to communities with core values and shared experiences," François de Singly from Paris-Descartes University told Le Figaro.

“They are not a threat to the social bond.”

Retirement homes for gay people already exist in other European countries with Sweden opeing its first home earlier this month. Resident and association vice-chair Lars Mononen told The Local Sweden that the home is meant to be a place where members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities can feel comfortable in their later years.

"We don't have kids, generally, and often aren't that close to other family members, and when you stop working you really miss that social interaction," said Mononen.

The proposal for gay retirement homes in France will be included in the consultation launched on Friday by French Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault designed to look at the reforms to deal with the “adaption to an aging society”.

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Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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