Friday, 26 October 2012

'Le Baiser de Marseille' kiss shakes up France's same-sex marriage debate

Photo by Gérard Julien for AFP
Gasp horror outrage! Saperlipopette !!

French governments have always been loath to consider the legalisation of same-sex marriage, but that may thankfully change soon if recently-elected President François Hollande gets his way. He and his government intend to introduce a same-sex marriage and adoption law in 2013 but there has been a storm of protest from some quarters, including bishops, militant Catholics, the extreme right, mayors, some of whom have said they will refuse to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies to take place within their communities, the legal profession and others.

The lobbying was beginning to represent a serious threat to Hollande's proposed legislation, which is why he must surely have been pleased to see it receive some much-needed and well-publicised support earlier this week in the form of two young women from Marseille who kissed each other on the mouth for several seconds in front of a group of indignant participants in a 'One dad One mum' demonstration in Marseille which had been organised by 'l'Alliance VITA', an anti-gay marriage and abortion lobby group. The kiss has been dubbed 'Le Baiser de Marseille.'

The young women involved, Julia Pistolesi, 17, and Auriane Susini, 19, are not in fact gay and they didn't even intend to go to the demo, they just came across it whilst out walking. Once there however they were shocked by the points of view being expressed and decided to stand in full view of the crowd and put on a long and langourous protest kiss, which was greeted with cries of "you are disgusting!" and "you aren't even pretty!" The two women then disappeared into the crowd.

Their kiss was filmed by a friend.

It wasn't the video which put the story on the front pages of the French press however, but the fortuitous decision of Gérard Julien, an AFP photographer who had earlier decided not to go to the demo before changing his mind at the last minute. And he just happened to be present when the girls kissed and was able to take 9 photos of it in a few seconds, one of which is at the top of the page. He relates the story in this article.

Both the photo and the video have gone viral here and all I can say is that I'm very happy to hear it.  Hats off to these two young women for having the courage to carry out their action in front of a crowd which, for all they knew, may have turned ugly and angry.

Oh, and the latest on this story is that similar initiatives have been seen since at related demos in other cities. As for the photo, some commentators are even beginning to compare it to Robert Doisneau's iconic 1950 photograph, 'Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville' (Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville, which shows a couple kissing in the busy streets of Paris.

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