• France's news in English
Gay marriage
Meet Hommen: France's latest topless activists
Bare chested members of Hommen (left) at their latest anti-gay marriage rally on April 2nd, and rivals Femen at a pro-gay marriage rally last year. Photos: Youtube/sixt2m/AFP

Meet Hommen: France's latest topless activists

Dan MacGuill · 3 Apr 2013, 14:43

Published: 03 Apr 2013 14:43 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

First came the militant topless feminists Femen, who are known for their outlandish, semi-naked demonstrations at Notre Dame cathedral and the famous Louvre art gallery. Now Paris is home to a rival group of bare-chested male activisits that go by the name of Hommen.

The group has emerged in the last few days in France as a new, more radical arm of France's powerful anti-gay marriage movement.

Mirroring the tactics of Femen, the masked men paint slogans on their bare chests and take to the streets to spread their message.

However that appears to be where the similarities end.

In a rare interview with The Local on Wednesday, a representative of Hommen, calling himself ‘Henri’ was scathing about Femen saying the women were "practically a terrorist group".

“They hold shocking events, and they act outside the law," he said. "They use violence and hatred – we do not. We are peaceful and determined."


“The silent majority is emerging from its silence – this is a revolution.”

Hommen staged its biggest protest so far outside Paris’ busy Saint-Lazare train station on Tuesday evening. A group of shirtless, masked men waved the tricolour and chanted outside the major rail hub in the French capital, to both applause and booing from passersby.

Their torsos painted with messages such as “Freedom”, “Protect Kids”, and “Free Speech”, some chanted “Democracy!” while others were symbolically gagged by a suited man bearing a François Hollande mask.

“At our first event, there were 20 of us. On Tuesday at Saint-Lazare, there were 30,” said Henri. “Our goal is to oppose gay marriage. The French people have expressed themselves with historic demonstrations against it, and the government’s only response has been violence,” he said, referring to the use of tear gas at protestors during a rally in the capital last month.

France’s anti-gay marriage movement has become increasingly frustrated at the French president’s refusal to hold a referendum on the question of same-sex marriage and adoption.

The French president has preferred, instead, to act through parliament, where the lower house (Assemblée Nationale) passed the gay marriage bill in February.

“The government has gagged us, and tried to prevent us from speaking, but there is a silent majority in France who oppose gay marriage. And now that majority is emerging from its silence,” said Henri.

“This is a revolution,” he added.

‘Anger is rising all over France.’

France’s anti-gay marriage movement has become increasingly angry and extremist in recent weeks and has seen more radical splinter groups like Hommen and "Le Printemps Francais" (French Spring) emerge from the more moderate, Manif Pour Tous organisation, led by French comic Frigide Barjot.

Story continues below…

On March 26th, Socialist deputy Erwann Binet had to be evacuated under police protection from a public debate at a university in the Paris suburb of Yvelines.

A group of around 20 anti-gay marriage protestors forcibly stormed the lecture hall and put an end to the discussion, holding a banner and chanting for 30 minutes.

“This movement gets more and more radical every day,” said Henri, adding “Anger is rising all over France.”

For Henri, though, there is nothing extreme about Hommen’s tactics or beliefs.

“The fact is that we represent the majority of French people, who strongly oppose gay marriage. We don’t have names, and we don’t show our faces, because we are all the same person," he said.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available