By ARNAUD GAUTHIER-FAWAS
The French Parliament last week voted to extend the state of emergency for another three months following the recent terror attacks. With this choice, the deputies will have a direct impact on the restrictions on civil liberties and militant mobilizations of LGBT communities, mainly freedom of assembly in a public space. This ultra-security response to the attacks is not the right response to terrorism. To compel activists to silence is exactly what the terrorists wanted and will allow them to win.
Nov. 20 was the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which was held to bring together trans people and friends around the commemoration of murdered trans people. It was to have taken place on the steps of the Hôtel de Ville (Paris City Hall.) Banned by the police, local organizations were forced to move the event at the last minute to a room inside the LGBT Center of Paris where the ceremony finally took place.
“It is important to continue to be vigilant to make sure that freedom for which we fought are not restricted…it shows that even in a democracy, rights should never be taken away under pressure,” said Clémence Zamora Cruz, a member of Transgender Europe (TGEU).
The police have also cancelled protest marches that were scheduled to take place on Nov. 25 to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Amandine Miguel, a spokesperson for Inter-LGBT, explained that outside actions would be replaced by online ones where activists will share digital visuals that show key figures about violence against women on social networks.
“Women are subject to specific invisible violence, e.g. refugees, fall victim to sexual violence both during their exile but also arrivals because shelter centers are dedicated for men,” she said. “A non-mixed women’s equivalent doesn’t exist.”
Events to commemorate World AIDS Day were also scheduled to take place in Paris on Dec. 1.
This is a symbolic and very important day for heavily affected LGBT communities. It calls together both health associations that fight against HIV/AIDS and LGBT activist organizations.
“We are waiting for permission or prohibition of the march by the police,” Act Up-Paris President Mikaël Zenouda said. “They were already really cautious before the attacks because of the management of security issues around the COP21 and the fact that our march goes through Paris’ main streets. Due to the high level of tension linked to the presence of numerous heads of state they refuse to mobilize police on our event at the expense of the security of the summit.”
Jérôme Beaugé, co-chair of Inter-LGBT sums up the current mood in the LGBT community in Paris.
“We need to take back the streets,” he says. “We need to make sure we not live in fear.”
Arnaud Gauthier-Fawas is a spokesperson for international relations for Inter-LGBT, a coalition of French advocacy groups.