Jean-Claude Van Damme slammed for ‘shocking’ remarks on same-sex marriage

Action movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme was criticised by the French minister for Gender Equality Marlène Schiappa for talking about same-sex unions in the same breath as dogs getting married.

The Belgian actor appeared on French television on Saturday night as a guest of the On n’est pas couch talk show, which featured minister Schiappa among other panelists discussing a series of topics, including feminism.

Van Damme first clashed with the minister early on in the programme, rudely interrupting her as she spoke about the female identity. He let out a whistle and an “Oh my god” before proceeding to ask who would take care of the children if all women had a job. Unflappable, Schiappa called out Van Damme’s behaviour as “mansplaining,” defining the English term to the French audience.

Secretary of State in charge of Equality between Women and Men in France Marlene Schiappa. (Andreas Rentz/Getty)

Later on, Van Damme returned to the issue of taking care of the children which, according to him, was a woman’s prerogative, while the husband’s role was to work and provide for his family.

This time, Schiappa questioned him about same-sex couples, which have been able to get married in France since 2013.

“According to your theory, if a man marries another man or a woman marries a woman, how does that work?” she asked.

“Men marry other men?” Van Damme replied, looking confused. “Men get married, women get married, dogs get married… Everybody is getting married and everybody is getting divorced,” he added, attempting to make a joke.

As the audience laughed, Schiappa held the actor to account for his tone-deaf remarks, reminding him of the Pride parade that just hours earlier had marched through the streets of the French capital—despite homophobic acts of vandalism taking place in previous days.

“I’m sorry, but this is not funny. This is the day of the Pride parade where people march to defend their rights,” she said.

“I find this shocking,” she continued. “There are people who are beaten and insulted because they are homosexual, we need to support them rather than mocking them, saying they are dogs.”

Participants attend the Gay Pride parade in Paris on June 30, 2018 (Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty)

Van Damme tried to defend himself.

“I have a lot of friends who are gay,” he said.

“If they want to get married, that’s OK,” Van Damme continued. “But the question is, if all the boys marry each another and all the women marry each other, how are we going to have children?” he tried to joke, once again, soliciting laughter and applause from the audience.

On social media, many viewers of the show shared Schiappa’s views and shock at Van Damme’s remarks. The French anti-discrimination organization Stop Homophobie highlighted the TV exchange on its website and said it reported it to the country’s ombudsman for broadcasting standards, the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA).

According to French news outlet, the counsel had already received around 20 complaints about the broadcast and it was going to investigate whether it breached its standards.