France,  Gay marriage

Two legal victories: Outlawing caste discrimination, gay marriage in France

In a welcome move, the House of Lords has ruled that caste should be deemed a protected characteristic in a new clause in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.  This follows an earlier defeat for this amendment in the House of Commons. Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, commented:

We are delighted that the Government has committed to ensure that discrimination against caste will enjoy the same statutory protection as other protected characteristics. Too many British citizens have suffered caste based discrimination. Our equality legislation now sends out a clear signal that it will no longer be tolerated, and offers hope to the tens of thousands of British Asians whose lives are blighted by such prejudice.

The ‘Informal conciliation’ solution proposed by the Government, possibly in deference to high caste (and high influence) Hindus, was woefully inadequate for such deep-seated discrimination that can ruin people’s lives.

Here’s a piece by Priyamvada Gopal on the subject – not someone I see eye to eye with usually, but I agree with her on this issue.

France has seen extraordinary scenes of unrest in response to its moves to legalise gay marriage, but this important change in the law has now been formally approved:

The ruling Socialist party and their allies in the lower house of the National Assembly passed the bill 331 in favour – 225 against, giving same-sex couples the legal right to marry and adopt children.

Further violent clashes have followed this announcement, following on from many earlier protests and disturbances – and an increase in homophobic attacks.  These rallies have been remarkably well supported and have led to many protestors being arrested. Here’s a disturbing response from a leading French Catholic:

France’s former Catholic leader, André Vingt-Trois, who last week stepped down as Archbishop of Paris, accused Hollande’s government of “refusing all differences between the sexes”.

In a continuation of what some critics have said is inciting violence, he said that the refusal would “frustrate personal expression . . . That is how you prepare a society of violence.”

I would have thought preventing, rather than allowing, gay marriage could more accurately be said to ‘frustrate personal expression’. It was estimated that around 50,000 people turned out to protest against gay marriage just before the bill was approved.  The French religious right is a strong force behind this opposition.

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