A bill is currently being debated in the French Senate that aims to compensate the thousands of men who were convicted and imprisoned for homosexuality between 1942 and 1982.
Proposed as a way to rectify past social injustices, the bill seeks to acknowledge the role of the French state in perpetuating homophobic repression.
Senator Hussein Bourgi, who introduced the bill, stated, “We have enough perspective to be able to look at this painful and inglorious past, and to admit the mistakes that were made.”
Although France was the first country to decriminalize homosexuality during the French Revolution in 1791, discriminatory policies were reintroduced under the Nazi-allied Vichy regime.
Under the pretext of protecting young people, the Vichy government established a stark contrast in the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual sex, setting the age at 13 for heterosexual couples and 21 for homosexuals.
Years of Persecution
It was not until 1982 that same-sex couples were no longer at risk of imprisonment, with convictions ranging from “moral indecency” to “leading a minor to debauchery.”
Sociologist and historian Antoine Idier explained, “Judges leveraged a wide range of criminal charges to repress homosexuality, even though they were not explicitly intended for that purpose.”
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