How will France’s gay marriage law affect French Polynesia?

Australian radio show investigates how gay marriage law will affect French overseas collectivity, French Polynesia

How will France’s gay marriage law affect French Polynesia?
31 January 2013

Australia’s ABC radio asked this morning how gay marriage law in France, if it gets passed, affect the overseas collectivity of French Polynesia.

The host of the Pacific Beat program asked Tahitian politician Sabrina Birk, about how marriage equality will affect the local gay community and ‘rae rae’ (transgender women).

‘It will make a lot of difference because they will be accepted,’ said Birk. ‘Right now there is a lot of lobbying against this from the Christians, the Catholics.’

Birk said the rae raes, more than the gay community, are discriminated against when seeking employment.

But Birk said the younger generation are more open-minded than the older, more religious generation, and rae raes are more vocal about speaking up for their rights. ‘They go on TV and speak about their problems, so there is a consciousness among the youth,’ she said.

‘Mentalities are changing. Our problem is the older generation, the Christians, the Catholics, these are the people who are against expressions of femininity by the rae raes.’

French Polynesia, containing around 130 islands including Tahiti, was officially colonized by France in the late nineteenth century. In 1946 Polynesians were granted French citizenship and the islands’ status was changed to overseas territory.

In 1977 the islands were granted partial autonomy and in 2003 the territory’s status was changed to overseas collectivity, an administrative division similar to the regions of France.

French law applies to overseas collectivities and French Polynesians can vote in France’s elections.

The French National Assembly is currently debating marriage equality legislation that would allow gay couples the same rights as straight couples to marry and adopt children.  

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