France: Public figures call for resignation of anti-LGBTQ+ minister Caroline Cayeux

France's minister for territorial cohesion Caroline Cayeux

More than 100 public figures in France have called for the resignation of minister Caroline Cayeux after she reaffirmed her anti-LGBTQ+ views.

Cayeux, who was appointed minister for territorial cohesion less than two weeks ago on 4 July when France formed its new government, was asked in an interview whether she stood by her opposition to same-sex marriage and adoption.

In 2013, she described same-sex couples as “against nature” as France prepared to vote on legalising marriage equality.

Asked on Tuesday (12 July) by broadcaster Public Senat if she stood by her comments, she said: “I maintain my remarks.”

Cayeux, 73, continued: “I always said that if the law were voted, I would apply it. I have a lot of friends among all those people, and I’m being targeted by an unfair trial. This upsets me.”

The minister received immediate backlash, and attempted to control the situation by apologising in an interview with Le Parisien newspaper on Thursday (14 July), as well as tweeting that her comments were “inappropriate”.

But rights groups doubt her sincerity and on Sunday (17 July), more than 100 public figures – including politicians, athletes, doctors and artists – published an open letter calling for her resignation in the newspaper Journal du Dimanche

Signatories asked: “How can we believe that the government will respect equality among everyone, will commit to fighting discrimination and guarantee gender freedom?”

They continued: “The question is not whether this new minister has, in her entourage, friends that are among “those people” to mask her prejudices. She deliberately chose to maintain homophobic remarks: it is completely reprehensible… Her words hurt many of us personally, but above all they undermine our daily efforts to uphold national values.”

However, Cayeux doesn’t seem to be stepping down any time soon.

French prime minister Elisabeth Borne described the minister’s remarks as “clumsy”, but said that following her apology, she would be “vigilant” about supporting the queer community.