“The State will have to assume the first ban in France”

A man stood alone, looking at his phone, on the sidelines of the Toulouse Pride March, June 8, 2019.

© Batard Patrick
A man stood alone, looking at his phone, on the sidelines of the Toulouse Pride March, June 8, 2019.

“Are the state and the government ready to assume the ban on a Pride March a few months before the presidential election?” The question is asked by Jérémy Perrard, director of Pride Toulouse and joined by Release, on the sidelines of a gathering on the Place du Capitole in the heart of the pink city.

This demonstration was organized while 41 associations rose up on Saturday morning in a press release against the possible ban on the event scheduled for Saturday 9 October. The latter denounce a “blackmail” from the Haute-Garonne prefecture which requests that the route of the procession be changed, “For safety reasons”.

The event, officially declared, was to be held as every year between the Place du Capitole, where a village of pride is installed, and the rue de Metz, passing through the main arteries of the Toulouse city center. “It’s a classic, fairly short course, which we know very well”, says Jérémy Perrard. Instead, the prefecture offers a more distant path, between Compans-Caffarelli and the Palace of Justice.

The same case in 2019, smoothly

However, the associations waited until October to organize the event, instead of the usual June, in order to “Better understand the health situation” and “To be able to demonstrate in the safest possible way”. Problem, like every Saturday for several months, the risk of a chance meeting with demonstrators against health measures worries the authorities.

However, the Toulouse organizers highlight the precedent of the 2019 edition, in the midst of the yellow vests movement. “We were first asked to postpone our march to Sunday, recalls Jérémy Perrard. But, by definition, we need exposure. Demonstrating in Toulouse on a Sunday would be synonymous with defeat when the city center is very uncrowded. ”

The 2019 Pride March, the 25th in the pink city, finally took place as planned in the hypercentre and had been a great success, with more than 30,000 people and no clashes to report. “The prefecture itself underlined the good organization of our mobilizations, our ability to ensure the safety of the procession in addition to the maintenance of public order., assures the director of Pride Toulouse. We have the impression that the state regards us as a happy carnival and does not understand that we are a protest movement. ”

The 24th Toulouse Pride March brought together around 30,000 people on June 9, 2018.

© Provided by Liberation
The 24th Toulouse Pride March brought together around 30,000 people on June 9, 2018.

“We will go to the end while respecting the law”

So now it’s the status quo. Everyone stands in their positions and if the situation does not change until October 9, the demonstration will likely be canceled. “The prefecture has clearly explained to us that they allow themselves the right to prohibit the movement if they consider that there is a real risk of disturbing public order, by making us bear the responsibility”, regrets Jérémy Perrard.

However, the associations seem to want to go to the end of their fight. “We will not demonstrate elsewhere than in the hypercentre, says the director of Pride Toulouse. If the prefecture forbids us to do so, it and the State will have to assume the first ban on a Pride March in France. ” No question of parade without official authorization, “To avoid taking risks”.

These tensions occur in a very specific context, whereasa text aimed at banning conversion therapy arrives at the National Assembly and the presidential election is fast approaching. The organizers also insist on the support given to them by Carole Delga, the socialist president of the Occitanie region and the support of Anne Hidalgo, who “Must have a stand in the village on the Place du Capitole”.

“Our movement is very watched. We are observed around the world while more than 30 countries still penalize homosexuality, our markets have international reach ”, argues Jérémy Perrard. Contacted by Release, the Haute-Garonne prefecture had not answered our questions at the time of publication of the article.

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