Liberté, égalité, fraternité (Liberty, equality, brotherhood); the great motto that the French shouted as they jumped on top of the barricades to give birth to the French revolution and what later was to become the proud republic of France.

Today 300 000 people has been marching in the street of Paris to protest against gay marriage. Yes, so they say – but this has nothing to do with the French peoples having anything against two men or two women being allowed to get married, this is a raw, cynical and inhuman political game. And if we don’t watch out – the “losers” will take it all.

But before we all get all depressed and disappointed by the French today, let’s take a step back and think what this is all about.

First of all – like it or not – France is still a very conservative country. Religion – and especially the Christian Catholic Church has had a strong influence on peoples way of thinking. Lately we have also seen an increase of Islam in France, and as with all religions also Islam has its conservative wing. History has shown us over and over again that conservative and extreme religious forces are not our allies. This last march has nothing or little to do with gay marriages – this was an excellent opportunity for our enemies to take to the street and use religious terms to try to hold us down, slogans like “France needs kids, not gays.” is very homophobic and an attack on gay rights and dignity.

Secondly we have to remember that France has a lot to deal with economically. And for those who was awake during the history lessons at school, Europe has been in financial trouble before, and if you did not know that gays where attached also back then, at least you have heard about what happened to the Jews.

Thirdly we have these two men; François Fillion and Jean-François Copé, concervative politicians that badly want power, so bad that they have managed to divide their own party between them, and that is hitting the party really bad at the polls. The two wings of the conservative party cannot agree on who they want as their next president but they can agree on attacking the minorities, in this case the gay people of France.

And lastly – the French did away with the king and his court in a powerful and bloody way, and somehow it seems that this powerful force of protesting as stuck with the French ever since – no one has lost their heads so far, at least not physically. 300 000 is a lot of people, but 800 000 people walked in the march for equality.

Mr Merriman, our national producer in Ireland writes on Facebook that “It’s bad for democracy that a mainstream party would seek to resurrect its profile at the expense of the human rights of its fellow citizens. What they marched for was their right to interfere in other people’s lives and shows the ugly side of what a right wing party will sacrifice for power.” I agree with him.

It is a sad day in France when political resurrection is at the cost of human rights – democracy turns back on itself and demeans the people it is supposed to protect.

This march today proves one thing, and one thing only – those who thought that we in the Western world has won the battle for gay rights needs a reality check; today they got 300 000 of them.

And yes, I know that even some gay people are against gay marriage. I don’t understand why, but it is their right to feel and think that they want, as long as they respect that some gay couple actually want to get married and want to raise children.

I am all for freedom of speech and I am a strong defender of the freedom of the press, but I am also very much for human rights. I have said it before and I say it again; you cannot choose which human rights to support – it is either all or nothing.

Dear friends in France, think about what they fought for when they yelled “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”, watch your step so you this time don’t “decapitate” the ideals of democracy; freedom, equality and fraternity.

Tore Aasheim
President MGE