Homophobia row engulfs French first lady Brigitte Macron
French first lady Brigitte Macron, wife of president Emmanuel Macron, has angered LGBT+ rights advocates in the country for posing for a picture with a man who has called gay people ‘perverts.’
Macron visited the Christmas market in the Tuileries gardens in Paris with her grandchildren over the weekend, according to the French newspaper Le Parisien, when the man known as the king of funfairs, Marcel Campion, asked her for a photo.
Campion launched the Christmas market, but was forced to step aside from its organisation due to homophobic statements made at a meeting in January that were broadcasted in September in a French TV news show.
The picture of a smiling Macron standing next to Campion sparked outrage as the French LGBT+ community is facing increasing rates of anti-LGBT crime in the country—something the French government has promised to tackle.
“Brigitte Macron or the French elegance. What is more amazing than posing with Marcel Campion, King of the funfairs? Ah no, sorry, king of the homophobes. Merry Christmas,” one Twitter user who describes himself as a gay casting director, wrote.
“it’s nice to see the French president’s wife posing with a notorious homophobe. Very ‘Christmas spirit,'” bitterly commented openly gay politician and French Communist Party spokesperson Ian Brossat.
Another Twitter user, who describes himself as an LGBT+ activist, also took the picture as a sign of the French president failing minorities: “Macronism cracks down on homosexual rights and those of other minorities. Shame,” he wrote.
In his January rant, Campion used incendiary language to describe city officials, with whom he’s been embroiled over the years in a series of battles around permits for his fairground business.
“I once again, with the greatest sincerity, apologise to all those whom I have hurt and shocked.”
— Marcel Campion
He singled out former First Deputy Mayor Bruno Julliard, who is openly gay. “He brought in all the gays of the planet. That means that the whole city is governed by gays.” he said.
He continued: “Me, I have nothing against gays—I usually say ‘fags’ but I was told yesterday that you shouldn’t say that anymore. So I do not say ‘fags’ anymore, I say ‘gays.’ I have nothing against them except they are a little perverse.”
Campion then repeated the claim he doesn’t have an issue with LGBT+ people, but “those,” referring to the city officials, “are perverts.”
Brigitte Macron staff says first lady confronted Marcel Campion on homophobic remarks
The first lady’s staff said in a statement to Le Parisien that Macron had visited the market in “private capacity” and that posing for a picture with Campion did not mean endorsing his behaviour. According to her staff, she took that opportunity to tell him “she found his words unacceptable.”
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A similar statement was shared via the official Twitter account of the French president’s party En Marche!’s LGBT+ group.
In a statement to Le Parisien, Campion condemned those seeking to “rekindle the controversy around [his] supposed homophobia.”
He described his previous remarks as uttered “under the influence of anger.”
He added: “I once again, with the greatest sincerity, apologise to all those whom I have hurt and shocked. May everyone be convinced that I hate homophobia like all discrimination against anyone. ”