This is why Marine Le Pen’s 2024 EU elections win is terrifying to LGBTQ+ people

The French president Emmanuel Macron unexpectedly called snap parliamentary elections on Sunday (9 June) after his centrist alliance was trounced by Marine Le Pen’s far-right movement in the EU elections.

The Financial Times reports that Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (National Rally) received 31.5 per cent of the vote in the elections for the European Parliament which took place from 6-9 June 2024 – compared with just 14.5 per cent for the French president’s centrist alliance.

The results led Macron to come out strongly against far right politics, stating: “For me, who always considers that a united, strong, independent Europe is good for France, this is a situation which I cannot countenance. I have decided to give you back the choice of our parliamentary future with a vote.”

However, it is an incredibly high-risk roll of the dice for Macron. He lost his parliamentary majority after winning a second term as president in 2022; this snap election could see him be forced to appoint a prime minister from another party, even, potentially, the far-right Rassemblement National.

This would leave Macron with little power over domestic affairs with three years left as president, says the FT.

Emmanuel Macron last faced off against Marine Le Pen in the presidential election in 2022 – and at the time, as it still is now, the fight against the far right was seen as battle for the future of LGBTQ+ rights.

The next presidential elections are still three years away, however, Le Pen’s large margin of victory in the European parliament election could lend momentum to her ambition to succeed Macron as president in 2027.

Le Pen celebrated the EU election victory and hailed Macron’s response to it, saying: “I can only salute the president’s decision to call early elections . . . We are ready to exercise power if the French give us their backing.”

Could Marine Le Pen become president?

French LGBTQ+ voters previously told PinkNews that Marine Le Pen winning the presidential election would imperil LGBTQ+ rights. (Chesnot/Getty Images)

One thing we can say about Marine Le Pen is that when it comes to bids to become president, she is certainly persistent. For many people in France, there was almost a sense of déjà-vu ahead of the 2022 vote.

The 2022 run-off once again saw Macron, and Rassemblement National party candidate Le Pen on the ballot: a choice that the French already made in 2017.

Neither of the candidates’ campaigns particularly touched on LGBTQ+ rights in 2022. Nevertheless, LGBTQ+ voters and activist groups were watching the results anxiously.

Activists told PinkNews at the time that making sure Marine Le Pen didn’t wrest away France’s most powerful political office from Macron was simply too important not to vote.

Marine Le Pen’s electoral rise should be a ‘concern to LGBTQ+ people’

A politician with ties to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Hungary’s Victor Orbán entering the Élysée Palace could threaten the leaps the country has made, Gatipon Matthieu, the 38-year-old spokesperson for the national advocacy group Inter-LGBT, said.

As much as she has taken calculated steps to soften her image, such as no longer pledging to revoke marriage equality, Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigrant, “anti-wokeism” and nationalist platform remains a threat to queer rights.

Le Pen, 55, is one of the nation’s most back-bitingly anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. She has opposed, among other things, marriage equality, same-sex adoption and same-sex surrogacy.

The Rassemblement National, formerly Front National, once a fringe group, has long been dogged by allegations of homophobia, racism and antisemitism. Its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has described being gay as a biological anomaly as well as a “personal choice” and said “paedophilia” has its “roots … in the admiration of homosexuality”.

“The presence of Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election is a factor of concern for LGBTQ+ people in France,” Mattheiru, who is also president of LGBTQ+ centre Coleaurs Gaies, told us in 2022.

“The far-right candidate has spoken out against equal rights for LGBTQ+ people during debates over the openness of marriage. She is also hostile to PMA [procréation médicalement assistée, or assisted fertilisation].

“The proximity of the Rassemblement National candidate to leaders like Victor Orbàn and Vladimir Putin allows us to affirm that her election would be a very bad thing for LGBTQ+ people.”

To some LGBTQ+ voters, France’s 2022 presidential election was more an unpopularity contest than anything. Elli Tessier, a 28-year-old non-binary energy engineer, said he viewed Macron as someone who “does not really care about LGBTQ+ people”.

France’s last presidential election was more of an unpopularity contest than anything, LGBTQ+ voters and activists said. (Chesnot/Getty Images)

But he said he dislikes Marine Le Pen a lot more – and for good reason.

“Le Pen said that she wouldn’t go back on gay marriage for French people,” they said, “but it could be a complete disaster for trans people, as the TERF movement in France is rather close to the far-right.

“The far-right is also already violent against women, especially lesbians, bisexuals, trans people and LGBTQ+ people of colour. If she would be elected, that could get even worse.”

In 2022, Thomas Miani, a 30-year-old Deliveroo administrator who has moved to Manchester, England, also spoke to PinkNews about the rise of the RN.

He told us that many of his family were planning to vote for Le Pen in the 2022 election, and that – sadly – he was not too surprised.

To his family, a vote for Le Pen would help tackle “far bigger issues” than LGBTQ+ rights, such as the economy, the Russo-Ukraine war and the rising cost of living crisis: all of which are still major issues.

“At which point I like to call them out and thank them for thinking of me as a lesser citizen just because of my sexuality,” he said.

A vote for president Emmanuel Macron, one LGBTQ+ voter said, was a vote to ‘save lives’. (Kiran Ridley/Getty Images)

“I fear this conversation, as tame as it is, isn’t just an isolated case of me versus them.”

Macron, meanwhile, has long been a “brilliant supporter” of LGBTQ+ rights in his eyes, citing Macron overseeing a long-sought ban on conversion therapy as an example of his steady support.

The 2024 snap election will almost act as a referendum to gauge the current level of support for far-right politics in France. The first round of elections will be held in three weeks, on June 30, with a run-off on July 7.

RN has 88 seats out of 577 in the National Assembly, making it the biggest opposition party. Macron’s centrist alliance has 249, so has had to cut deals with other parties to further his agenda.

Speaking in 2022, Miani told PinkNews that France needs to reject not just Le Pen, but her party’s history, platform and ideology.

“I think as citizens, we need to educate others that sometimes it’s better to have the best of the worst choices rather than suffer through the absolute worst just because you wanted to prove a point and be stubborn,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we’re not taught how to vote, just who to follow.”

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