President François Hollande has infuriated many of his own left-wing supporters and delighted the radical right by postponing an innocuous reform of family law.
Conservative and hard-right “family fundamentalists” who marched in great numbers through Paris last Sunday are claiming victory.
Left-wing Socialists and Greens accuse the President of being afraid of the rising tide of right-wing radicalism. They plan to defy Mr Hollande, and stir up the right, by introducing the sort of pro-gay, family legislation which was not – despite the claims of anti-gay activists – in the postponed law. The issue encapsulates the perverse, looking glass world of the current political debate in France. It also points, insiders say, to Mr Hollande’s growing fear that a populist right-wing revolt on social issues could capsize his planned reforms of the struggling economy.
The final draft of the postponed family legislation contained neither of the changes decried by hard-right activists as “ anti-family”. These are state funding for lesbian couples to have artificial insemination (briefly considered but dropped) and a legal right for gay, or heterosexual, couples to pay women to have babies (never considered at all).
The legislation, delayed until 2015, covered changes such as clarifying the legal position of step-parents and giving adopted children the right to trace their birth mothers.