Man jailed in France for protesting drag queen story time event

A drag queen, dressed all in pink, holds up a book while interacting with kids during a story time reading event

A right-wing activist who chanted hateful slogans while protesting against a child-friendly drag story time event in France has been sentenced to four months in prison.

A court in Rennes handed down the sentence to Paul Carton, 24, on 9 October after he was convicted of an undeclared demonstration and provocation of hatred due to sexual orientation or gender identity.

He was also fined €500 (approximately £435/$530) and told to make a payment of €800 (approximately £695/$850) to each of the three civil parties involved in the case. 

Carton admitted that he was among the approximately 20 members of L’Oriflamme Rennes, a small right-wing group, who protested outside a drag story event at the Saint-Senoux media library in Ille-et-Vilaine, in May.

The town hall organised a reading of stories by three drag artists – dressed as a robot, a princess and a snail – for children aged three to six. 

Members of the right-wing group, who were dressed in black and wore masks, stood in front of the venue with a smoke bomb and a banner that translates as: “Instil our children with our roots, do not impose drag queens.”

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Carton also admitted that he chanted bigoted slogans into a megaphone during the protest, LGBTQ+ media outlet Têtu reported. Together, Carton and the group called for there to be “less trans” people and “LGBT degenerates” in France as well as for drag queens to be kept out of public spaces. 

“I don’t regret what I did because I think the important thing is to defend our country,” Carton told the court in September. 

One of the drag queens who participated in the event said that they had planned a “gentle reading… without any ideology” when the group interrupted them. 

The court also heard that Carton was the former leader of Action Française, another hard-line right-wing movement, in Rennes before creating L’Oriflamme Rennes in January. 

In its bio on X, previously known as Twitter, L’Oriflamme Rennes described itself as a “community movement” that “brings together all those who are committed to saving our nation and our civilisation”.

Supporters of Carton voiced their opposition to the court sentence on the social media platform. They claimed he was just “opposing [the] LGBT lobby” that allegedly wants to “condition” young people.

Family-friendly drag events have increasingly become the target of right-wing ire worldwide with protests breaking out in the US and UK

Despite the backlash, LGBTQ+ people and allies have shown up to protect the shows. Many activists, including drag queens, have highlighted how this anti-drag movement is linked to a broader attack on queer rights in the US.