On April 19, an Irish jury decided that the death of Savita Halappanavar occurred after the hospital staff, citing Catholic dogma, denied her a life-saving abortion.
We cannot know how much suffering and how many deaths of other gays and women has gone unreported.
A huge demonstration in March attracted “right-wingers” and “ended in scuffles and tear gas as gay marriage opponents sought to break through police barriers to march down the Champs Elysées.”
Beginning April 15, activists “launched a series of guerilla protests, staging dawn protests outside pro-gay marriage figures' homes and even blocking a fast train carrying a journalist who backs the bill. Police arrested 70 activists as they sought to set up tents outside parliament.”
"Claude Bartolone, the head of France's National Assembly, was sent a letter with gunpowder, that demanded Bartolone call off Tuesday's vote on same-sex marriage."
After the legislation was passed, "about 5,000 people had gathered peacefully on the Esplanade des Invalides to protest....30 minutes after the demonstrators had been instructed to go home, a group of 100 to 200 youths, aged 18 to 25, brushed aside the official stewards and attacked the heavily armored lines of the CRS – the riot police. They hurled bottles, flares, paving stones, fireworks, metal bars....The mob suddenly turned on the TV cameramen and press photographers. One photographer was knocked to the ground and something was sprayed in his eyes."
Predictably, acts of violence against gays have also increased.
"Two weeks ago, a Dutch-born man walking with his partner in Paris was beaten up. The man, Wilfred de Bruijn, posted a photograph of his bloodied face on his Facebook page, calling it 'the face of Homophobia.'”
"Cabaret dancer Raphaël Leclerc was attacked this weekend after leaving a nightclub; his three attackers referred to Leclerc and his boyfriend being gay, and also asked them if they were French or Chechen. Leclerc replied he was French and then was punched and kicked so badly he lost consciousness. The Nice attack follows antigay actions, often violent, in Paris, Lille, and Bordeaux."
Following Tuesday's final passage of the marriage equality law, "the Twitter hashtags 'DeathToGays' and 'WeMustKillTheHomosexuals' were trending on the French Internet."
Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris and highest ranking Catholic official in France, blamed the government for the violence. Legalizing same-sex marriage is “the way a violent society develops," he told members of the French bishops' conference.
"Family-values" leader and Catholic comedienne, Frigide Barjot, repeated the cardinal’s accusation. “The violence comes from the way in which this [law] was imposed,” Barjot told France’s Info radio. “Hollande wants blood, and he’s going to get it! Everyone is furious. We live in a dictatorship.”
Not only Barjot adopted the language of U.S. bishops. (President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, wrote that "the Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate violates the constitutional limits on our government.” The preceding president of the USCCB, Chicago Cardinal Francis George accused President Obama of moving “this country from democracy to despotism”.) “Hervé Mariton, spokesman for the anti-gay marriage movement from the mainstream right-wing opposition UMP party, likened the decision to speed up the parliamentary timetable [approving same-sex marriage] to a "legislative coup d'état."
The French anti-gay movement is backed by “the unholy alliance of the Catholic Church, American-supported Family Values advocates, and French conservatives, who have even included white supremacists at their 'family values' protests.” They have “joined forces, with homophobia as their glue, to use the gay marriage debate as an opportunity to attack the majority government by any means necessary.”
The cross-over between hard right activists and Catho-traditionalist kids fits a pattern which has worried politicians of both Right and Left in recent weeks. The mass gay marriage protests have eroded the increasingly flimsy barriers between the “traditional” and the “hard” right in France; between the National Front and the center right....“Critics of President François Hollande have used protests against the bill as a way to attack him.” The “unholy alliance” masks their true purpose which is to defeat a French progressive government “by attracting right-wingers opposed to the Socialist administration."
The mood of the well-heeled kids, arrogant and excitable rather than sincerely angry, fits the mood of their parents. The gay marriage law has crystallized a contempt for President François Hollande which goes beyond his bumbling response to France’s economic woes....
There has been much talk in the demonstrations of same-sex marriage as an attack on the “real France”; of a conspiracy by an “ideologically driven” Socialist government to force “a change of civilization”. The protests have re-awoken old demons – Church versus Republic; “real” France versus “Anti-France” – which weakened the country in the 1890s and the 1930s.
(My thanks to William Lindsey. I received several of the above links from his Bilgrimage blog.)
Savita Halappanavar died in an Irish hospital last October. Hospital staff denied her request for an abortion because "this is a Catholic country." "They waited three days until the 17-week-old fetus had died, then discovered she was in an advanced state of septicemia. She died three-and-a-half days later from organ failure…During an inquest, the key expert witness, Peter Boylan, former master of a major Dublin maternity hospital, said he was confident that an abortion one or two days before the fetus died would have saved Halappanavar's life."
In the wake of this tragedy, there was a public outcry for Ireland to amend its abortion law. Like popular French support for same-sex marriage, the majority (64%) of Irish are in favor of more liberal abortion laws. On April 24, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said he would like to see abortion legislation passed by this summer.
Since abortion became open to debate, “American pro-life dollars are pouring into Ireland.”
Catholic prelates support the status quo.
“Opus Dei has the money and the discipline to organize PR campaigns efficiently.” Crown said he believed Opus Dei was ‘a major player' in the campaign to thwart legislation that would allow for abortion when a mother's life was at risk” and that “he had received abuse over his role on the subcommittee” which is discussing the particulars of the legislation.
Like the U.S. where "moral" issues are brandished to support the plutocracy, the real motivation for many is to attack a progressive government. Kenny “has spelled out his vision of Fine Gael as a party of the progressive centrer, focusing on the rights and responsibilities of all citizens.” Fine Gael governs in a coalition with the Labour Party.
As Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis also used Catholic fundamentalism to combat Argentina’s progressive government. According to Ernesto Semán, a historian at New York University and former reporter for two Argentine newspapers, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio opposed the government “in a decade in which Argentina lived the largest and fastest reduction of poverty and inequality….The current government of Cristina Kirchner is a liberal progressive one and, to no one’s surprise, Bergoglio and Kirchner locked horns over a number of issues in addition to same-sex marriage,” including abortion and contraception.
“In Argentina, his naming as pope has been received with the warmest enthusiasm by the rightist opposition,” said Andrea D’Atri, founder of Bread and Roses, a human rights group.
If it were not so, Bergoglio would not be pope.