Convicted Homosexuals Act: Who will be compensated? How much and why?

“Apologies to the homosexuals of France”.

Convicted Homosexuals Act: Who will be compensated? How much and why?

“Apologies to the homosexuals of France”. MPs approved a bill aimed at repairing the harm suffered by homosexual people due to discriminatory laws in force between 1945 and 1982.

After the Senate, the National Assembly approved at first reading, Wednesday March 6, 2024, a bill aimed at recognizing and repairing the harm suffered by homosexual people linked to discriminatory laws in force between 1942 and 1982, the date of decriminalization of homosexuality in France. The National Assembly reestablished the principle of financial reparation for people convicted of homosexuality as well as the creation of a commission responsible for ruling on requests for financial reparation that the Senate had removed.

In his introductory remarks, the Minister of Justice Eric-Dupond-Moretti wished to ask for forgiveness from those victims of discrimination because of their sexual orientation: "It is high time to say this evening in the name of the French Republic: pardon, pardon to the people, to the homosexuals of France who have suffered, for forty years, this totally unfair repression. Our Republic is never as beautiful as when it knows how to recognize that it has lost the thread of its founding principles, freedom, 'equality, fraternity'. The question of compensation for these victims now arises. Concerning the amount of compensation, the author of the bill wanted to grant a fixed allowance of 10,000 euros, to which would be added an allowance of 150 euros per day of deprivation of liberty. A mechanism removed from the text by the Senate at first reading, then reinstated last week in the Assembly's Law Committee.

The Minister of Justice indicated this Wednesday the “extremely complex” nature of “putting into practice” compensation for victims. According to him, the commission should be confronted with “probatory difficulties”. Indeed, how will the people concerned be able to prove that they spent this or that period in prison? “Or that they paid the fine to which they had been sentenced” continues Eric Dupond-Moretti. “It is therefore essential that in the final drafting of this text, we ensure not to create disappointments which would result from these evidentiary difficulties” It is necessary that “compensation be precisely fixed in the law and be implemented by a commission established ad hoc” he continues.

Established by Senate regulations, an ad hoc committee is a committee responsible for a project or proposed law. We speak of an ad hoc mandate when it concerns a special mandate. In Parliament, for example, ad hoc committees can be set up to examine a text. A president and a secretary make up an office appointed by the commission itself. Then, a rapporteur is appointed at the end of the work, before the examination is carried out in public session.

In 1942, the Vichy regime reinstated certain specific criminal offenses against homosexuals. According to research work indicates Vie Publique, “nearly 10,000 people (almost exclusively men) were convicted for this reason between 1945 and 1982, with prison sentences in 90% of cases. Recent research even estimates the number of convictions for homosexuality at 50,000. The only article of the 2024 text aimed at recognizing the responsibility of the French State in the convictions of people for homosexuality first recognizes its responsibility due to criminal provisions from February 8, 1945, which constituted discrimination based on sexual orientation. Then, that these provisions were sources of suffering and trauma for the people convicted, in a discriminatory manner, on their basis.

The rapporteur of the text, the socialist deputy Hervé Saulignac, indicated that recognition could not go without reparation. “I think France is capable of doing what Germany did, what the United Kingdom did, what Ireland did, what Spain did, what Canada did” he pleaded. According to him, the number of people benefiting from reparation could be between 200 as in Spain and 400 as in Germany. Finally, as this was not a final vote, the text will resume its legislative journey and return to the Senate before, perhaps, final adoption.

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