France sees jump in violent homophobic attacks

France has seen a rise in homophobic physical attacks for the second consecutive year, a new report reveals with a gay rights charity saying it shows prejudice against the LGBT community is becoming "anchored" in French society.

France sees jump in violent homophobic attacks
Photo: AFP
The new report doesn't make for happy reading. 
The number of physical attacks due to homophobia jumped from 121 in 2016 up to 139 in 2017, according to the annual report by French gay rights charity SOS Homophobie.
After several years of declining physical assaults, the figure jumped by 15 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to the report.
The victims are most often men (58 percent) and young people (56 percent of victims were under 35 — when their age is known). 
In one high profile incident in 2016 a French student named Marin was left critically injured defending a gay couple who were kissing in the street in the French city of Lyon.
On 11 November 2016, Marin, then a third-year university student studying law and political science, came to the defence of a gay couple who were being attacked by a gang of youths after kissing at a bus stop.
Marin's alleged aggressor, a minor at the time of the incident, attacked him from behind, repeatedly clubbing him over the head with a crutch that left him with a coma.
Overall, SOS Homophobie collected 1,650 testimonials of homophobic acts, representing an overall increase of 4.8 percent on the figures from 2016 (1,575). 
The most frequently reported acts of homophobia were people openly showing their disapproval of homosexuality insults followed by discrimination, harassment and threats and blackmail.
In 2016 there had already been a sharp rise in the total number of acts on the previous year, with an increase of 19.5 percent, the organisation said. 
However the peak of homophobic activity in France was recorded in 2013 (3,517 testimonies) after gay marriage was legalized. 
Where is it happening?
The more accurate question would be: where isn't it happening?
The charity collected testimonials of homphobic acts taking places in work environments, around people's homes, among family, schools and shops.
The number of incidents occurring around people's homes has shot up by 84 percent and schools by 38 percent. 
In more than one out of two cases (55 percent), homophobia occurs “in the context of everyday life,” said the study.
Among the testimonials collected by the charity, one came from a couple, Mickaël and Gabriel from Toulouse, whose neighbour said: “Hitler did his job badly, I'm going to throw a bottle of gas at your house and get you burned.”

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‘Not football’s job’ to combat homophobia: French football chief

The head of French football has pulled away from a hardline stance against homophobic chanting and banners in stadiums on Friday, saying that "too many matches" have been stopped due to anti-gay abuse.

'Not football's job' to combat homophobia: French football chief

Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation (FFF), said that the FFF would not instruct referees to stop matches except in cases when a “whole stadium” was guilty of homophobic chanting.

“I think we're stopping too many matches! That makes certain government ministers happy, but it bothers me. Football can't be taken hostage by vulgarity,” said Le Graet in an interview with newspaper Ouest-France.

Several matches have been temporarily halted in France this season after the French football League (LFP) introduced over the summer plans to tackle fan homophobia during matches, including allowing referees to stop games.

“Matches have been stopped when they shouldn't have been,” Le Graet continued.

“We will stop them if there is consistent homophobic abuse from the whole ground, but if among 30,000 people there are 2,000 imbeciles I don't see why the other 28,000 should be punished.”

Le Graet referred to France's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who in April launched the appeal for matches to be stopped in the event of homophobic abuse, and equalities minister Marlene Schiappa.

Schiappa publicly praised referee Clement Turpin after he stopped Marseille's 2-1 win at Nice for over 10 minutes last month following sustained abusive chanting and banners from home fans, but Le Graet insisted that it wasn't football's job to combat homophobia.

Paris Saint-Germain's match at Metz two days later was also briefly halted for a banner unfurled by the hosts' supporters asking the French league (LFP) to allow them to aim homophobic chants at PSG.

“Did football invent homophobia? You can be a know-it-all when you have got much to say. But there are more important political issues,” he said.

“This crisis will resolve itself. We will work with club presidents, people who don't stick their oar in every morning, who don't want to just look good in front of the television cameras.”