To The Defence of The Family

La Manif(estation) pour tous is a conservative movement dedicated to the protection of family life in France. Its name is an ironic play on Marriage pour tous, slogan of the successful push for gay marriage, and as such is only awkwardly translatable: perhaps as ❛Demo for All❜. The organization is currently led by Ludovine de la Rochère, one of its founders. It is implacably opposed to gay marriage, surrogacy, and the bringing up of children in the homosexual demi-monde.

La loi Taubira, named for the generally despised and now departed Garde des Sceaux [Minister of Justice], established gay marriage as a legal right in France in 2013. The groundswell of failed opposition to the law immediately transformed itself into a campaign for its repeal, which continues to be prosecuted despite the now lengthening shadow of the fait accompli. Some politicians of the Right, notably the once and perhaps future president of the Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, think aloud about the outside  possibility of repeal, only to shrug it off as yet another unwanted opportunity for social bloodletting. The supporters of La Manif pour tous are determined to weigh heavily in the coming political turmoil of the 2017 presidential election campaign.

La Manif is adamant that homosexual marriage is wrong in principle, and that its long-term effect is incalculable. Far from being the matter-of-fact non-event of gauchiste mythology, soon to be forgotten or accommodated by conservatives, gay marriage is denounced by La Manif as a worming-out of the institution of the family; a militant’s travesty, hiding the sadness and resentment of the clown.

The following article from Le Figaro runs through La Manif‘s flagship issues.

Manif pour tous : the flashpoint issues, from surrogacy to gender theory

First published in French 14th October 2016, in Le Figaro

Twin cuts to the family allowance, reform of parental leave, or more recently a reduction in housing assistance… The government’s successive assaults on family policy are intolerable.

To keep alive opposition to the ❛civilizational change❜ wrought by the Taubira law of 2013: that is the aim of the Manif pour tous. Because if the debate on marriage and adoption for homosexual couples now seems distant, the consequences [of the law] will always be with us, believes the group, as it opens up new fronts for attack.

◼︎ In Vitro Fertilization [PMA: La procréation médicalement assistée]

The struggle against ❛fatherless IVF❜ on behalf of the interests of the child is one of the favourite themes of the Manif pour tous. In France, artificial insemination using an anonymous donor is still restricted to infertile heterosexual couples. The extension of this method of assisted reproduction to single women and lesbian couples — demanded by a large grouping of the Left, including several ministers — was to have been enacted within the framework of the Marriage Equality law, then of the law on the Family. However, the government finally buried the project after some impressive counter-demonstrations in 2013 and 2014. Although there is no pending Bill on this issue, the Manif pour tous anticipates that the promise will be made again before the presidential election. Especially as several recent polls indicate that the French are favourably disposed to this development. Just like the candidate in the [presidential] primary for the Right, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet… The debate is also expected to be relaunched by an announcement from the National Ethics Committee [CCNE]¹, already three months in the drafting, of social guidelines for the use of IVF. This could happen at the beginning of 2017, when some of the committee’s members are due to be replaced.

◼︎ Surrogacy [GPA: La gestation pour autrui]

The fight against the ❛scandal❜ of surrogacy has emerged as a leitmotiv of the Manif pour tous. The use of surrogate mothers is prohibited in France, but the group is calling for the strengthening of criminal penalties since the European Court of Human Rights twice condemned France for not having recognized the civil registration of filiation for children conceived abroad in this way. Yet recognizing this filiation, which today relates only to the surrogate mother and not to the ❛commissioning❜ parent, constitutes a first step towards the legalization of surrogacy — a theme drummed in by the Manif pour tous. With only a few days to go before 21st October, the deadline for lodging an appeal against the European Court’s second indictment, the movement is calling on François Hollande to stand against ❝a world in which children can be bought and sold❞. And especially when the question of harmonizing surrogacy practices has come before European authorities over the past several months, and when the promise made two years ago by Manuel Valls to ❝pursue an international initiative❞ against surrogacy seems to have gone cold. The Manif‘s unfailing supporter, the deputy [Les Républicains] Hervé Mariton, has for his part been sent on a fact-finding mission by Alain Juppé, a [leading] candidate in the primaries for the Right. Presently, he is working on five possibilities, including the penalization of French citizens who resort to surrogate mothers abroad, or again the outright banning of foreign surrogacy for the French, via bilateral conventions.

◼︎ Gender Theory [Théorie du genre]

After the abandonment of the essentials of equality, we believed the polemic over gender theory to have been extinguished. But it broke out again viciously at the beginning of October with the warning of Pope Francis against the ❝insidious indoctrination❞ found in [French] school-books, and the incendiary retort of Najat Vallaud-Belkacem [French education minister] invoking the ❝massive campaign of disinformation waged by the fundamentalists❞. Beyond the controversies over the real or imagined existence of this ❛theory❜ and the ❛denial of differences between the sexes❜, the gender debate has served to uncover the anger of parents who feel ❝ousted from their role as first and principal educators of their children❞, as the catholic family associations express it.

◼︎ Policy on the Family [Politique familiale]

Twin cuts to the family allowance, reform of parental leave, or more recently a reduction in housing assistance… The government’s successive assaults on family policy are intolerable. The most recent anxiety is over the consequences of ❛individual tax schedules❜ with collection at source…. To this ❛smash and grab❜ are added concerns over ❛the weakening of marriage❜ with the introduction of divorce by mutual consent without a judge, and the celebration of civil unions [PACS]² in town halls. §

¹CCNE: Comité consultatif national d’éthique

²PACS: Civil solidarity pact [pacte civil de solidarité]