Even though she has vowed to repeal marriage equality, far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is receiving a surprising amount of gay support, due partly to her anti-immigration stance, the BBC’s Newsbeat reports.
“Where are the gays most in danger? In Islamic countries,” a gay man identified only as Pascale told Newsbeat from Le Marais, a heavily LGBT neighborhood in Paris. “Gay people are being crucified — it's a danger and I don’t want it coming to France, definitely not.”
Marine Le Pen is running in Sunday’s presidential election as the candidate of the Front National, a party founded in 1972 by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, a homophobe and Holocaust denier. Among her campaign promises are temporarily suspending all immigration and putting French interests first, which she claims other leaders have not done.
The anti-immigrant stance may be even more popular after today, when the Middle Eastern terrorist group ISIS took credit for the fatal shooting of a police officer and the wounding of two others in Paris’s Champs-Elysées shopping and entertainment district. The gunman was killed by police as he attempted to escape; ISIS’s message said he was from Belgium. ISIS also claimed credit for the November 2015 attack that saw 130 people shot to death at a concert hall and neighboring venues.
Some gay Frenchmen interviewed in Le Marais expressed doubt that Le Pen would actually rescind marriage equality, which has been the law of the land in France since 2013. “In my view, she won’t do it,” a man named Cedric told Newsbeat. “If the FN were to win, I think she would prioritize other things.” He said her stated opposition to marriage equality is likely a ploy to appeal to social conservatives. Also, Cedric said, he doesn’t vote entirely on LGBT issues. “There are more pressing issues like the economy, the national debt, and unemployment,” he said.
“I don’t think she’s a threat to gay rights at all,” added a man identified as Baptiste, who said he and his boyfriend are both voting for Le Pen. “It is true that maybe her father was more reluctant, but a lot of people in the political party now are homosexual and she never says she finds it unnatural.”
Indeed, the Front National has more high-ranking gay officials than any other party, and these include Le Pen’s top adviser, Florian Philippot, Newsbeat reports. And a survey of 3,200 gay Frenchmen by the dating app Hornet found that one-fifth support Le Pen.
However, in the Parisian suburb of Pont-de-Flandre, which Newsbeat called “poorer and more multicultural” than Le Marais, a black gay DJ said he was not surprised to hear that the gay men who voiced support for Le Pen were all white.
“I feel like a lot of LGBT people are very selfish,” DJ Kiddy Smiles told the program. “They feel like they're not targets for the FN anymore, so they think it's OK to vote for them. Marine Le Pen has been very smart by preaching that homosexuals are a target for Muslims.”
He doesn’t think she’s really antigay, he added, but is “telling the people on the right what they want to hear.” As far as repealing marriage equality, “just the fact she thinks it’s OK to say it makes her very dangerous,” he said.
Eleven candidates are running in the presidential election. If no one wins a majority of the vote, the top two will face each other in a runoff May 7.