FRENCH PRESIDENT TELLS UN LEADERS TO DECRIMINALIZE HOMOSEXUALITY
Thu, 27 September 2012French President François Hollande has told world leaders at the UN General Assembly that homosexuality must be decriminalised.
In his speech on Tuesday, Hollande affirmed his country’s commitment to upholding human rights around the world. He said that this fight for "fundamental freedoms" was France's "battle" and its "honour".
"This is why France will continue to conduct all these struggles: for the abolition of the death penalty, for women's rights to equality and dignity, for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality, which should not be recognised as a crime but, on the contrary, as an orientation."
He went on to say: "These are the issues that France will lead and defend in the United Nations. I say this with seriousness. When there is paralysis, inertion and inaction, then injustice and intolerance can find their place."
In June, Louis-Georges Tin, the founder of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), and three other activists went on a hunger strike over France's failure to take a stand on gay rights in the UN.
Tin claimed that he had been told by Hollande that the country would bring a resolution on the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality to the UN General Assembly before the November US presidential elections, but had failed to do so.
Hollande's speech at the UN may be an indication that France is now preparing to take a more active stance on the issue.
His statements will have particular significance for a number of former French colonies in Africa with anti-gay laws; nations where France continues to have considerable influence. African and Middle East countries have been among the most resistant to decriminalising homosexuality.
Hollande's government has promised to legalise same-sex marriage and gay adoption in France by early next year. Under current law, same-sex couples in France can enter into civil unions, known as 'pacte civil de solidarité' or PACS, but not marriage.