“There could be attempts to reverse gains”: how Marine Le Pen’s program would affect the lives of minorities

Rights for some, discrimination for others. If she reaches the Elysée Palace, Marine Le Pen has the big project of modifying the Constitution to include the “national priority”. In her programme, clearly rooted in the extreme right, she plans to“stop uncontrolled immigration”of“Eradicate Islamist ideologies” or to promote “safety everywhere”.

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The application of such a project in France, even if some of its contours remain vague and could come up against the law, would have unprecedented consequences for certain populations: foreigners and Muslims in the first place. The rights of women and LGBT+ would also be threatened. This is what society could look like under the presidency of Marine Le Pen.

If elected, Marine Le Pen intends to submit a bill on immigration and identity to a referendum in order to enshrine in the Constitution the “national priority”. It is a question of making legal the discrimination between the French and the foreigners for the access to the social housing, to work, to the hospital and to the social aids. “The implementation of the national priority for households with at least one parent is French will allow the 620,000 social housing units occupied by foreigners to be put back on the market quickly”, says Marine Le Pen in her program (link in PDF).

Concretely, this means that if two families apply for housing in a low-rent housing, the one in which at least one of the parents has French nationality will be given priority. Currently punishable by a three-year prison sentence and a fine of 45,000 euros, this discrimination would therefore become the rule. “The law will not be retroactive, we will not ask people to leave”assures franceinfo Sébastien Chenu, spokesperson for the RN.

Same situation concerning work: an employer may favor a French candidate over a candidate of foreign nationality. This breach of equality would have major consequences on the job market. For example, in 2017, 11.8% of doctors in regular practice had a diploma obtained abroad, recalls The world. Would they be forced to stop working?When we can hire French people who have the diplomas, the experience, they will be given priority. But we are not going to deprive ourselves of a doctor if he is there”, shade Sébastien Chenu.

“It’s not the exclusivity, otherwise it would be discriminatory; it’s the priority.”

Sébastien Chenu, spokesperson for the RN

at franceinfo

According to INSEE, in 2017, 6.6% of working people in France were foreign. They were over-represented among blue-collar workers (11.1%) and craftsmen, shopkeepers and heads of businesses with 10 or more employees (8%). “Many foreigners are employed in catering, construction. These sectors would not function without them”, describes Romain Prunier, of the United Migrants association.

“Restricting access to employment for foreigners would only aggravate their precariousness and prevent them from building up a file to be regularized.”

Romain Prunier, member of the United Migrants association

at franceinfo

Currently, you need a work contract or a promise of employment to be regularized. On this last point, Marine Le Pen has decided: foreigners in an irregular situation cannot be regularized except in exceptional cases. Moreover, “foreigners who have come to work will have to return home after one year of unemployment”, she writes in her program.

Always with the aim of “to put ours before the others”, Marine Le Pen wants to stop family reunifications, repeal naturalization by marriage and abolish the law of the soil. Asylum applications will only be processed from abroad. “These people will stay on the territory because they have no choiceprojects Romain Prunier. They will suffer from repression, the detention centers will not be numerous enough to manage the situation. There may be even more people on the street.”

The law will also make it possible to prosecute people who provide assistance to foreigners in an irregular situation. A project that worries Fanélie Carrey-Conte, general secretary of La Cimade. “We would switch to a world where bringing our common humanity to life in an elementary way could be liable to condemnation”, she laments. These associations, “as long as there is no violation of the law”, have nothing to fear, retorts Sébastien Chenu. But “they will probably not be financed by the state”he says.

To strengthen the authority of the State, Marine Le Pen wants to establish a “presumption of self-defence” for law enforcement. This means that in the event of a criminal prosecution, for example for police brutality, officers would not have more to prove the legality of their shooting. “In working-class neighborhoods, we are already living through complicated situations with the police. I’m afraid we’ll fall back into the ratonnades of the past, and that it’s legitimate”comments Mohamed Mechmache, from the Pas sans nous collective, which campaigns for equal rights for the inhabitants of these neighborhoods.

Another population particularly targeted by Marine Le Pen: Muslims. In order to “fight against Islamism”the candidate confirmed during the debate between the two rounds against Emmanuel Macron that she wanted to ban the wearing of the veil in public space. “The veil is a uniform imposed by the Islamists”, she said.

“We must push back the Islamists and for that, I believe, we must ban the veil in public space.”

Marine Le Pen

during the inter-round debate

If such a ban were put in place, France would become the first democracy in the world to ban a religious symbol in public space. “With Marine Le Pen, the anxiety-provoking climate will be increased tenfold, it will be worse”fears Laura, a member of the feminist and anti-racist association Lallab, who says she has “already suffered remarks in the street” about her veil.

“We will be restricted on our activities, our mobility. I am skeptical about our future and our freedoms. The question of leaving France will inevitably arise.”

Laura, member of the Lallab association

at franceinfo

Marine Le Pen also intends to regulate religious ritual slaughter “in the name of animal dignity”, thus targeting the traditions of Muslims and Jews. “The possibilities of importing kosher or halal meat are not reduced”weights Sébastien Chenu.

Feminist and LGBT+ associations also fear seeing their rights curtailed. On this subject, the program of Marine Le Pen maintains the vagueness. “It’s a way of not deciding. A strategy designed not to upset public opinion and not to offend its political camp”, analyzes Ugo Palheta, sociologist at the University of Lille.

The candidate erased her old proposals from 2017, when she promised to repeal marriage for all and prevent the opening of PMA to lesbian couples. “I will not take away any rights from the French”, she claimedApril 15, in Avignon. “This is our main principle”, confirms Sébastien Chenu. But the concerns are still very real.

“We have a Damocles sword above our heads”, feels Matthieu Gatipon-Bachette, spokesperson for Inter-LGBT. In question, “the three-year moratorium on societal issues” (link in PDF) wanted by Marine Le Pen, who will exclude any legislative development on these subjects, except via a citizens’ initiative referendum. “There could be populist attempts to reverse gains such as PMA or marriage for all”he dreads.

These concerns are reinforced by the measures already taken by certain European leaders, close to the RN, such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. In June 2021, the Hungarian Parliament has adopted a text prohibiting the “promotion” homosexuality among minors. A law homophobic and transphobic“, according to Amnesty International. However, “We know that Marine Le Pen looks with enamored eyes at what Viktor Orban is doing”notes Matthieu Gatipon-Bachette.

The president of the RN has also taken up the rhetoric used in Hungary affirming be “against all sexual proselytism against children”. RN MEPs, for their part, voted against a resolution condemning this law. “We are not going to get involved in these subjects at all”, sweeps Sébastien Chenu.

However, in 2020, far-right elected officials distinguished themselves by their vote against a European resolution condemning the almost total ban on abortion in Poland. “This is a European country that is backsliding on women’s rights because of far-right politics,” recalls Maëlle Noir, member of the feminist collective #NousToutes. “We know that these rights are very fragile and we are really afraid for France”hammers the activist.

With the RN in power, the associations are also alarmed at possible setbacks in the fight against violence. Matthieu Gatipon-Bachette, who is active in the Grand Est, notes that in his region, elected officials of the RN vote “systematically” against funding for associations for the prevention of sexism and anti-LGBT hatred.

“It’s not at all a fantasized fear. The RN is already in opposition to our associations.”

Matthieu Gatipon-Bachette, spokesperson for Inter-LGBT

at franceinfo

This is also the case in Nice, where the RN regretted that the city gave a grant to the LGBT Center of the French Rivierareports the magazine Stubborn. “In the European Parliament, RN elected officials have almost always refused to vote on measures in favor of gender equality and the rights of sexual minorities”adds Ugo Palheta, who warns: “The extreme right [en campagne] never completely expresses its fundamental project (…) because all this presupposes profoundly anti-democratic initiatives on their part.”

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