Interior Minister Gérard Collomb on Tuesday said during a hearing at the French National Assembly that authorities uncovered the plot on Aug. 22. BFM TV, a French television station, reported Collomb told lawmakers the plot targeted “Parisian nightclubs and gay establishments in particular.”
Collomb did not name the specific nightclubs that had been targeted. He told lawmakers that authorities have thwarted 12 terrorist plots in France since the beginning of the year.
“This is what Daesh wants: To divide the national community and ensure that in our country there are clashes among the French people,” said Collomb, referring to the so-called Islamic State as BFM TV reported. “This is a trap that we must not fall for.”
France has been under a state of emergency since a series of terrorist attacks at the Bataclan concert hall and other locations throughout Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, left more than 100 people dead.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place less than a year after gunman with ties to Islamic extremist groups killed the editor of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and 11 others when they stormed its Paris offices. ISIS also described the man who killed more than 80 people in the city of Nice on July 14, 2016, when he drove a large truck into crowds during Bastille Day celebrations as “a soldier of the Islamic State.”
ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on the Champs-Élysées in April that left Xavier Jugelé, a gay Paris police officer, dead and two others injured. Jugelé was among the police officers who responded to the Bataclan concert hall.
ISIS claimed responsibility for last month’s terrorist attack in the Spanish city of Barcelona that left more than a dozen people dead. The gunman who killed 49 people inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in 2016 pledged his allegiance to ISIS, but there is no evidence to suggest the group directed him to carry out the massacre.
“This could have been the ‘French Orlando’ and is a reminder that the struggle for equality and dignity of LGBTI people is by no means over in France,” Fabrice Houdart, a gay man from Paris who works for the U.N. in New York,” told the Washington Blade on Wednesday.
ISIS has publicly executed men in Syria and Iraq who have been accused of committing sodomy. An LGBT rights advocate in Lebanon told the Blade in a previous interview that ISIS militants once hanged a transgender woman by her breasts in a suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus.
Houdart pointed out to the Blade that French advocacy groups have reported “a major increase in verbal and physical violence of a homophobic nature” since the debate over whether to extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples in the country.
The law that allows them to marry and adopt children in France took effect in 2013.
“More than ever, France and President (Emmanuel) Macron must be engaged with this issue as a global struggle,” said Houdart.