Marine Le Pen is the unlikely far-right presidential candidate appealing to gay men.
France went to the polls today (23 April) for the first round of voting, where two candidates are narrowed down from 11 hopefuls.
The winners of the first round of voting were Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front party and Emmanuel Macron, head of centralist party, En Marche (‘On the move’).
These two candidates will battle it out in the next and final round of voting, taking place on 7 May.
Macron is the youngest candidate to reach the presidential runoff in French history and told a screaming crowd: ‘The French people have expressed themselves.
He said: ‘You have succeeded in convincing people that hope for our country is not a dream,’ reports the Telegraph.
Le Pen believes her victory represents ‘the great alternative’ for the French people.
‘The French have a very simple choice,’ she said. ‘Offshoring jobs, unfair foreign competition, mass immigration and free movement of terrorists… [or] borders that protect.’
The policies of the National Front
Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie started the National Front party in 1972, with extreme proposed policies.
He denied the Holocaust, he is infamously xenophobic, he denies climate change and he advocated for the forced isolation of people with HIV in the late 1980’s.
In 2015, his daughter Marine ousted him as the leader of the National Front and immediately began ‘de-demonizing’ the party.
A constant theme in the party is the tough stance on immigration, particularly muslim immigration in recent years.
Le Pen wants to completely stop the migration from muslim countries like Libya and Tunisia into Europe.
She also shockingly said in an interview this year that ‘colonization gave a lot’ to the French-colonized country of Algeria.
For 132 years, over 1.5 million Algerians were killed during the French occupation of Algeria.
Le Pen said: ‘I think that, and everyone who is honest admits it, colonization gave a lot.
‘Hospitals, roads, schools – you know, even Algerians who are honest admit it,’ she said.
Other prominent policies include withdrawing from the European Union, giving priority to French citizens, taking a tough stance on law and order and ending mass immigration.
Why do some gays love her?
Le Pen’s official stance is to scrap same-sex marriage.
In a list of 144 policies, she promises to create an ‘improved’ form of civil unions in the country to ‘replace’ the current equal marriage law.
But many believe she’s only trying to appease the far-right because she has remained relatively silent on the issue.
She has welcomed a number of gay men into her inner political circle, including National Front Vice President Florian Philippot.
Buzzfeed reports: ‘The National Front now has more high-ranking gay figures than any major party in France, including the Socialists, the center-left party that passed a marriage equality law in 2013.’
Opinion polls show a vast majority of the LGBTI community support left-leaning parties, but this is declining.
‘Disappointment with the Socialists has made LGBT votes up for grabs, some LGBT activists say,’ reports Buzzfeed.
The mood on the ground
When BBC Newsbeat interviewed gay men in the gay district of Paris, Le Marais, the results were telling.
One interviewee, Cedric said: ‘There are priorities in France other than homosexuality.
‘I myself am in a same-sex couple… But for me, there are more pressing issues like the economy, the national debt and unemployment,’ he explained.
It seems he’s not alone.
Gay Star News spoke to Alexandre Curioz, a gay man living in Le Marais: ‘The far-right is gaining voters everywhere.’
Curioz believes there is a shift in the world towards the far-right at the moment, naming Brexit and Donald Trump as examples.
Curioz said: ‘Because gays are being so accepted in our country, fighting for our rights is not a priority anymore.’
‘Gays like any other people can value other things now – their wellbeing, their taxes, their security and so on,’ he said.
House DJ Kiddy Smiles told the BBC: ‘I don’t want to say this, but I feel like a lot of LGBT people are very selfish.
‘They feel like they’re not targets for the National Front anymore so they think it’s OK to vote for them.
‘Marine Le Pen has been very smart preaching that homosexuals are a target for Muslims,’ he said.