Trans Cannes winner Karla Sofía Gascón sues French far-right politician over ‘transphobic insult’

Cannes winner Karla Sofía Gascón has filed a legal complaint against far-right French politician Marion Maréchal Le Pen after a “transphobic insult.”

Six LGBTQ+ organisations have also filed a legal complaint against Maréchal Le Pen for the same reason.

Maréchal’s comment was aimed at Emilia Pérez star Karla Sofía Gascón, 52, the first trans actress to win Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival.

In the Spanish-language musical Emilia Pérez, Gascón plays cartel leader Manitas who seeks help from Mexico City lawyer Rita (Zoe Saldaña) to help her flee to Mexico with her wife, Jessi (Selena Gomez), and children to seek gender-affirming surgery.

Karla Sofía Gascón accepted the ensemble cast’s award with a tearful speech, dedicating it to all trans people “who suffer so much and must keep faith that changing is possible.”

On Sunday (26 May) far-right politician Marion Maréchal, who is head of the European list for the conservative Reconquête party, targeted Gascón on X (Twitter). The post is still up on her account.

“It is therefore a man who receives the prize for… female interpretation at Cannes. Progress for the left is the erasure of women and mothers,” Maréchal wrote. 

Gascón, through her lawyer, told AFP: “We need to stop such comments.” Her lawyer Etienne Deshoulières said she had filed a legal complaint for “sexist insult on the basis of gender identity”.

Six LGBTQ+ associations – Mousse, Stop Homophobie, Familles LGBT, Adheos, Quazar and Fédération LBGTQ+ – have also filed a legal complaint.

“Marion Maréchal’s comments deny the very existence of transgender people, as well as the violence and discrimination they suffer on a daily basis,” said Etienne Deshoulières, the lawyer for the six associations.

The Stop Homophobie association noted that “this illegal behaviour reinforces the climate of violence in which LGBT+ people live in France”.

Making a public statement on the matter, Stop Homophobie association stated: “We are filing a complaint against Marion Maréchal Le Pen for having violated republican laws by promoting hatred and discrimination.”

They continued: “Marion Maréchal Le Pen’s speeches are heard by those who take action.

“Since 2016, violence against LGBT+ people has exploded by more than 129%, with the largest increase affecting transgender people. We are more determined than ever to protect them.”

In an interview after the legal complaint had been filed, Maréchal Le Pen responded on Tuesday (28 May) by stating she would “not be prevented from continuing to say what is the truth.

“Being a woman or a man is a biological reality, whether you like it or not. The XX or XY chromosomes cannot be surpassed.”

The 34-year-old politician – the granddaughter of Front National founder Jean-Marie Le Pen and the niece of the far-right party’s current leader Marine Le Pe – has previously stated she supports the “defence of the family.”

In 2013, she took part in a demonstration against same-sex marriage.

In 2017, she doubled down and said she “guaranteed” that same-sex marriage would be repealed if she won the Presidential election.

In 2018, she lashed out at gay families and vowed to “take our country back” at a US conservative conference.

Maréchal Le Pen is currently on the campaign trail for the European Parliament elections in June as head of Reconquête.

Reconquête was founded by former failed presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, who has been found guilty and charged with homophobia in 2023.

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