In France, transgender men and women have been allowed to legally change their gender since 2009, and same-sex marriage has been legal since 2013. This made France the thirteenth country to legalize same-sex marriage, although even prior to this France was considered one of the most LGBT friendly countries in the world. As per this standard, in 2009 France became the first country in the world to declassify transgenderism as a mental illness.
During my stay in Paris with a few friends from the group, I spent a lot of time walking around the city. It was filled with beautiful sights, but one of the most beautiful parts of Paris was the people. It truly is a city of romance, and love flowed like the Seine. I spotted couple after couple walking along the crowded streets, snuggling in corner booths, and happily swinging held hands. And fitting comfortably among the oodles of lovers, without fear of judgement, were LGBT couples, noticed no more than the rest.
The LGBT couples that I saw in Paris stood out to me, because they didn’t stand out at all. Nobody gave them a second glance, and the mild caution that I had sensed from LGBT couples in some of our other stops was nonexistent. The equality in Paris was the epitome of my dreams for the world, where there need be no fear of judgement. France even has a very successful law against hate crime, where one can receive up to 12 months in prison for non-violent offenses. Similarly, if a physical assault or murder occurs, and is classified as a hate crime, the sentence for the convicted goes up significantly.
Most of the places that we have visited on our study abroad have legalized same sex marriage, but they have not necessarily had the same level of acceptance as France. It has been wonderful to know that the people of UK and Ireland believe that same sex marriage should be legal, but their fight for equality doesn’t end with legality. Many still face discrimination, and often they are not as well protected by hate crime laws. In France, there are much fewer battles left to be won, in terms of both legal and social LGBT equality. The country has always been one of the most progressive in terms of the battles for LGBT rights, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the first to win the war. I believe in a world where true equality is possible, and I got a taste of that dream on the streets of Paris, France.
Written by Mallory Slavis