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Minister accused of rape supported homophobic group and opposed same-sex marriage

Minister accused of rape supported homophobic group and opposed same-sex marriage

  • French Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin denies the rape accusations but pressure is growing for him to resign.
Gérald Darmanin.

Tweets from France’s new Minister of the Interior opposing same-sex marriage have resurfaced while he also faces rape allegations.

Gérald Darmanin firmly denies the alleged rape. However, feminists and government critics are demanding President Emmanuel Macron’s government removes him.

Now he’s facing another controversy after tweets he posted between 2012 and 2013 resurfaced on social media.

At the time, Darmanin was a member of France’s National Assembly for Nord, the area of northern France bordering Belgium. A year later, in 2014, he became Mayor of Tourcing, a city on the border.

Meanwhile the debate on same-sex marriage was raging in France. It sparked mass marches both for and against equality and some bizarre, semi-naked protests.

But Darmanin was clearly against. On 2 June 2013 he vowed (translated):

‘It should therefore be recalled that the law for same-sex marriage does not oblige mayors to celebrate marriages personally. If I am mayor of Tourcoing, I will not personally celebrate marriages between two men and two women.’

Moreover, he tweeted his support for Manif Pour Tous. The group coordinated the demonstrations against marriage equality and became France’s dominant anti-LGBT+ organization.

He said France’s Socialist Party (PS) and then President François Hollande shouldn’t have supported marriage equality.

On 26 May 2013 he tweeted (translated): ‘Huge demonstration for Manif Pour Tous. I think that PS officials would have been better off keeping quiet.’

Women and LGBT+ people are ‘not a priority’

Darmanin is now a member of the ruling centrist party La République En Marche (REM). But the rape allegations date back to 2009 before REM existed when he was part of the center-right UMP party.

At the time, Darmanin was a local councillor in the north of France. Meanwhile his accuser, Sophie Patterson-Spatz was a project manager in the legal affairs department of the UMP.

She approached him asking for his help to lift a suspended sentence for blackmail. But she says he pressured her into having sex.

Officials investigated the allegations in 2017 but prosecutors said they couldn’t establish an ‘absence of consent’.

Moreover, Darmanin’s lawyers accused Patterson-Spatz of a ‘crude attempt to harm’ him and said he would sue her for slander.

However a series of appeals and dismissals followed. And, in June an appeals court in Paris ordered prosecutors to reopen the investigation.

Despite this fresh probe, France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex promoted Darmanin from Minister of Public Action and Accounts to Minister of the Interior on 6 July.

The response has been swift.

Campaigners started a petition demanding the resignations of both Darmanin and new Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti.

The petition states (translated):

‘The message sent by the government is very clear: the fight against violence against women and LGBTQIA + people is not a priority.

‘We are far from what should have been “the great cause of the quinquennium”.

‘After the deafening silence of [President] Emmanuel Macron concerning police violence and the question of systemic racism, we face a complete approval of sexism and sexual violence.’

So far it has reached 99,000 signatures.