Experts in LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) French politics have said there is no longer a “taboo” around gays voicing nationalistic, anti-immigrant views, as polls show their support for the Front National growing steadily.
An IFOP poll found that between March 2011 and November 2016, support for Marine Le Pen’s party grew faster among non-straight voters than the general population.
The survey, of 15,379 respondents, revealed that in three years Front National support rose from 9 per cent among both LGB and straight respondents to 16.5 per cent among LGB voters and 14.5 per cent among straight ones.
According to one Cevipof poll, 32.45 per cent of gay married couples voted for the Front National in the first round of regional elections in December 2015.
“People are not conflicted anymore to voice right wing opinion,” Didier Lestrade, the French-Algerian author of Why Gays Turned Right, told Buzzfeed. “It is the end of a taboo.”
“What’s happening in bars, especially when people have a couple drinks, when they are among friends, you can hear that they’re not afraid to voice opinions that for a long time were repressed within the gay community”, he explained.
The National Front now has more high-ranking gay figures than any major party in France including the Socialists, who passed a gay marriage law in 2013.
However, the party still has many socially conservative policies which opponents have attempted to frame as anti-gay. They want to repeal the gay marriage laws, and oppose same-sex adoption, for example.
Yet these policies are not priorities for the Front National, and other concerns, such as homophobia among immigrant and Muslim communities in France, are driving gay voters towards the anti-mass migration party.
“I believe that French people feel threatened; I believe that about gay people as well,” said Sébastian Chenu.
Mr. Chenu is the founder of a gay rights group inside France’s center-right Republican Party, who made headlines when he joined the National Front in 2014, where he now heads the party’s committee for the entire north of France.
Marriage equality “is not a central issue anymore,” he explained, as there is a real threat that France could become “less free.” And “when society becomes less free, when one is gay, one has very much to lose”, he explained.
Several recent polls have revealed Front National leader Ms. Le Pen is now favourite to win the first round of voting in France’s presidential elections this April. Securing the gay vote could be crucial to electoral success.