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social sciences

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French Gay Liberation Movement  
page: 1  2  

Among other significant leaders and theorists who emerged from the French gay liberation movement were young militants such as Alain Prique, Jean Le Bitoux, and Guy Hocquenghem, as well as older radicals such as Daniel Guérin, Michel Foucault, Geneviève Pastré, and Jean-Paul Aron.

By the late 1970s, revolutionary gay politics began to give way to a drive for legislative reform. In 1979 the Comité d'Urgence Anti-Répression Homosexuelle (Emergency Committee Against Homosexual Repression), a non-governmental organization that worked to improve the legal status of French queers, was founded.

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The reformers soon met with success in their efforts to repeal the two statutes in French law that discriminated against homosexual citizens: different ages of consent for homosexual and heterosexual acts; and different penalties for homosexual and heterosexual public sex.

As in other countries, the gay movement in France was devastated by the arrival of a new and terrifying sexually transmitted disease. The 1984 death of famous French philosopher Michel Foucault from AIDS riveted the attention of the gay community on the epidemic and prompted dramatic changes in the politics of sexual liberation.

Radical action returned to the French queer community during the 1990s with the rise of confrontational groups like ACT-UP that demanded a pro-active response to the AIDS crisis.

But in general more recent glbtq activists have been more reformist than revolutionary, succeeding in 1999 to pass the Pacte Civil de Solidarité (Civil Soldarity Pact), which removed legal distinctions between married and unmarried couples regardless of gender, effectively granting same-sex couples the same civil and economic rights as opposite-sex couples (though not the name marriage).

Still, the influence of the French gay liberation movement remains potent. The 1970s spirit of viewing homosexuality as a revolutionary force for change may be seen in some contemporary organizations, such as the Association pour le reconnaissance des droits des personnes homosexuelles et transexuelles à l'immigration et au séjour (Association for the Recognition of the Rights of Homosexual and Transsexual People for Immigration and Residency).

ARDHIS was formed in 1998 by a coalition of queers who found commonality in the prominent social issues of gay marriage and the rights of bi-national glbtq couples and persecuted glbtq individuals seeking refuge in France.

Tina Gianoulis

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social sciences >> Overview:  France

France, the second largest nation in Western Europe, has a rich, if markedly ambivalent, relationship to glbtq people and cultures.

social sciences >> Overview:  Gay Rights Movement, U. S.

The U.S. gay rights movement has made significant progress toward achieving equality for glbtq Americans, and in the process has become more inclusive and diverse, but much remains to be done.

social sciences >> Overview:  Homophile Movement, U. S.

The homophile movement of the United States refers to organizations and political strategies employed by homosexuals from the end of World War II to 1970.

social sciences >> Overview:  Paris

One of the world's most iconic cities and an influential hub of Western culture, Paris is also a major international glbtq center.

social sciences >> Overview:  Same-Sex Marriage

Lesbian and gay couples have been fighting for the freedom to marry since the dawn of the modern glbtq struggle for equality; despite some success abroad, progress toward same-sex marriage in the United States has been slow.

social sciences >> Overview:  Women's Liberation Movement

The Women's Liberation Movement, which flourished during the 1970s, constitutes the largest and most widely publicized social movement of women in history.

social sciences >> ACT UP

Using bold images and confrontational tactics, ACT UP worked to promote awareness of AIDS and challenge the complacency of politicians and government officials in the early years of the epidemic.

social sciences >> Aron, Jean-Paul

French writer and public intellectual Jean-Paul Aron is widely credited for giving a human face to AIDS and thereby changing the public perception of the disease and those who suffered from it.

social sciences >> Baudry, André Émile

André Baudry, as leader of the French homophile movement from the early 1950s into the 1980s, was the principal spokesman for homosexuals in France before the rise of gay liberation in the 1970s.

literature >> Foucault, Michel

One of the leading philosophers of the twentieth century, Foucault has had an enormous influence on our understanding of the lesbian and gay literary heritage and the cultural forces surrounding it.

social sciences >> Guérin, Daniel

French leftist Daniel Guérin came out publicly as a homosexual in his late sixties and for the remainder of his life worked to fuse gay liberation and left-wing politics.

social sciences >> Hahn, Pierre

One of the earliest gay militants in contemporary France, Pierre Hahn also received the first doctorate in France for work in the history of homosexuality.

literature >> Hocquenghem, Guy

Leftist Guy Hocquenghem produced a considerable canon of queer theory and experimental fiction, much of it still unknown outside France.

social sciences >> Pastre, Geneviève

One of France's leading lesbian theorists and political activists, Geneviève Pastre is a writer and publisher who has made lesbian feminism the root of her political and literary work.

social sciences >> Stonewall Riots

The confrontations between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn in New York City the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 mark the beginning of the modern glbtq movement for equal rights.

literature >> Wittig, Monique

The controversial lesbian author and theorist Monique Wittig has produced some of the most challenging fictional and theoretical work of second-wave feminism.


Bonnet, Marie-Jo. "Les Gouines Rouges (1971-1973)." Marie-Jo Bonnet website (August 3, 2009):

Jackson, Juliet. Living in Arcadia: Homosexuality, Politics, and Morality in France from the Liberation to AIDS. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Martel, Frédéric. La longue marche des gays. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2002.

_____. The Pink and the Black: Homosexuals in France Since 1968. Jane Marie Todd, trans. Palo Alto, Cal.: Stanford University Press, 1999.

Merrick, Jeffrey, and Michael Sibalis, eds. Homosexuality in French History and Culture. Binghamton, N. Y.: Haworth Press, 2001.

Sibalis, Michael. "Gay Liberation Comes to France: The Front Homosexuel d'Action Révolutionnaire (FHAR)." French History and Civilization: Papers from the George Rudé Society 1 (2005):


    Citation Information
    Author: Gianoulis, Tina  
    Entry Title: French Gay Liberation Movement  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2011  
    Date Last Updated January 26, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2011 glbtq, Inc.  


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