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HOMOPHOBIA

Crowd attack on French transgender woman sparks outrage

French authorities are investigating an attack on a transgender woman who was assaulted and jeered at a demonstration in central Paris against Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika that sparked outrage Wednesday among activists and politicians.

Crowd attack on French transgender woman sparks outrage

French authorities are investigating an attack on a transgender woman who was assaulted and jeered at a demonstration in central Paris against Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika that sparked outrage Wednesday among activists and politicians.

A video of the incident on Sunday, which has been viewed over 1.5 million times on Twitter, showed a group of protesters rounding on the woman as she came out of the metro onto Place de la Republique where the demonstration was taking place.

 

One man reaches out, ruffles her hair and taunts her in Arabic as she climbs the steps to jeers.

Dressed in a skirt and striped shirt, she seeks to move through the crowd, a mixture of expatriates and people of Algerian origin.

One man throws a flurry of punches at her while another aims a kick in her direction.

A girl wearing an Algerian flag around her shoulders apparently tries to intercede before a team of metro security officials arrive on the scene and escort the woman away.

In an interview with BFM TV the woman, identified only as Julia, aged 31,  said she was confronted by three individuals. 

“One of the three looked at me and said 'You're a man, you're going nowhere, you're not allowed pass' and put his hand on my chest.”

Another, she said, made an obscene gesture while two others “laughed and threw beer on me.”

It was not clear whether she was referring to the attack caught on camera or to another earlier incident.

'More progress needed'

French prosecutors have opened an investigation into “violence committed on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity,” a judicial source said. One person had been detained but was later released, the source added. 

The latest in a spate of anti-LGBT attacks in the French capital triggered a flurry of condemnation and expressions of sympathy for the victim.

“Everyone should be able to move about freely in public spaces whatever their gender. This video shows it's not the case and that there is still a lot of progress to be made,” the president of the SOS Homophobie campaign group, Joel Deumier, said, calling for the attackers to face justice.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo also expressed outrage and tweeted that “those responsible for this intolerable act should be identified and punished.”

There have been weekly demonstrations in Paris and other French cities calling on the ailing Bouteflika to resign. He finally stepped down late on Tuesday after weeks of pressure.

Mounting attacks

Marlene Schiappa, the government minister in charge of promoting gender equality combatting discrimination, tweeted that homophobia and transphobia were “not opinions” but expressions of “ignorance and hatred”.

The number of attacks on the French transgender community shot up by 54 percent to 186 reported incidents in 2017, SOS Homophobie said in a report last year.

Paris has also been the scene of several homophobic attacks in recent months.

The head of a French gay rights NGO suffered a broken nose in October after being punched in the face on the street and told he “should be burned.”

A month previously, a young actor, Arnaud Gagnoud, was insulted and beaten with a helmet after hugging his partner outside a theatre in eastern Paris.

Gagnoud required seven stitches after the attack.

by AFP's Clare Byrne

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FOOTBALL

‘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
Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

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.”

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