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Delanoë, Bertrand (b. 1950)  
 
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Bertrand Delanoë has had a successful political career, serving as a Paris city councilor, a member of the French National Assembly and Senate, and, since 2001, as the mayor of Paris. Although his homosexuality has not in itself been an issue in his campaigns for public service, he was targeted for assassination by a man who hates homosexuals.

Bertrand Delanoë has described himself as "descended from a family of travelers." His ancestors were Breton, Italian, and English, and his French-born parents moved to Tunisia. Delanoë was born in the capital, Tunis, on May 30, 1950 and grew up in Bizerte on the Mediterranean coast.

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Delanoë's father, Auguste Delanoë, a surveyor, was an atheist and a right-winger. His mother, Yvonne Delanoë, was a nurse and a devoutly religious Roman Catholic. In the matter of their children's education, Madame Delanoë prevailed: Delanoë and his sister attended Catholic schools and were instructed in the faith.

The years of Delanoë's youth were politically tense ones in Tunisia, then still a French colony. When French soldiers fired on Arab citizens in 1961 in the Battle of Bizerte, the young Delanoë was incensed. "I thought an Arab should be equal to a Frenchman. That was my first political thought. That's how, because of colonialism, I began to identify with the left," he stated.

The family left Tunisia for France in 1964. His parents' marriage broke down, and Delanoë and his mother took up residence in the south of the country near a convent that his sister, Joëlle, had entered. In the tumultuous month of May 1968, when combined strikes by students and workers in Paris sparked civil unrest around the country, Delanoë joined in the activism by organizing strikes at his Catholic high school "to question the moral order."

Delanoë continued his education at the Université de Toulouse, where he earned a degree in economics. During his college years he took an interest in politics. He joined the Socialist Party at twenty-one and quickly became an active member. Two years later he undertook his first political job as the party's deputy secretary in the département of Aveyron in southern France.

At the urging of party leader and future president François Mitterrand, Delanoë moved to the capital to take a role in national politics.

Delanoë won his first election in 1977, when he became a député of the city council of Paris. His bids for reelection were successful, and he remained on the council until he became the city's mayor.

Delanoë ran for national office in 1981 and was elected a député of the Assemblée nationale and took his seat while simultaneously serving on the Paris council.

In 1986 the party had him stand for election as the député for Avignon, an area in which support for the Socialists was very weak. He was defeated in that effort but reelected to the Paris council.

In the wake of the loss of his seat in the National Assembly, Delanoë largely withdrew from national politics, concentrating his efforts on his work on the council of Paris and also founding a public-relations firm that represented associations of teachers and of students, among others.

In 1993 Delanoë became head of the Socialist faction on the Paris council. The party was in the minority but, under Delanoë's leadership, picked up six seats in 1995. In the same election Delanoë ran successfully for the Senate seat for Paris.

Delanoë had spoken in favor of glbtq rights and had been visible in his support, marching in gay pride parades, but he did not come out publicly until November 1998, when he agreed to appear on the television program Zone interdite and, in response to a question from journalist Philippe Pécoul, stated, "Oui, je suis homosexuel" ("Yes, I am gay").

Delanoë expressed the hope that his coming out would make it easier for others to do so, but he acknowledged that for people in small towns and possibly for other politicians, the choice remained difficult. "I understand those who don't speak. I hesitated," he said.

Delanoë has since called for equality for the glbtq citizens of France in all aspects of life, including marriage and the adoption of children.

Delanoë entered the race for mayor of Paris in 2001. One of his campaign slogans, "Changeons d'ère" ("Let's change eras") referred to the fact that the Gaullist party Rassemblement pour la République (RPR) had held city hall since 1977. Because of numerous scandals and allegations of corruption, the incumbent mayor, Jean Tiberi, was rebuffed by the RPR and ran as an independent. The RPR candidate, Philippe Séguin, the right-wing former speaker of the National Assembly, was the early favorite to win. Séguin, for his part, seemed to view his election as a given and the mayoralty of Paris as a stepping-stone on his path to become President of France.

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Bertrand Delanoë in 2006.
  
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