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France to create LGBTQ+ envoy role amid backlash over ministers’ anti-gay statements

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced Thursday that an “ambassador for LGBT+ rights” position will be created and filled before the end of the year.

In a statement, Borne’s office said the ambassador will be responsible for “coordinating French diplomatic action to protect against discrimination and promote LGBT+ rights around the world.”

Borne also announced the creation of a fund of €3 million to create 10 new LGBTQ+ centers, in addition to increasing the budget of the existing 35 centers, which hold events hosted by LGBTQ+ organizations.

The move comes amid strong criticism of President Emmanuel Macron’s government given the appointment, after a reshuffle, of two ministers who have made anti-same-sex marriage statements in the past: Local Authorities Minister Caroline Cayeux and Ecological Transition Minister Christophe Béchu.

Cayeux was quizzed about her past remarks on French TV in mid-July, to which she responded that she “certainly stood by her words,” and defended herself by saying she had many friends among “all those people.” She backtracked soon after and apologized for her remarks.

Following that incident, around 100 prominent figures, including from the presidential majority, denounced Cayeux’s “homophobic remarks” in an op-ed published by the Journal du Dimanche. Dozens of people gathered Tuesday near the National Assembly in Paris to protest her continued presence in government.

Béchu commented Thursday on his vote against same-sex marriage in 2013, saying that it was unwise to “look with the eyes of 2022 at the state of affairs of 10 years ago,” and that his views had changed since.

The French prime minister made the announcement of the new role during a visit to an LGBTQ+ center in Orléans, on the 40th anniversary of the repeal of the law criminalizing homosexual relationships in France.

Hussein Bourgi, a senator for the Socialist Party, announced leading up to Borne’s visit that he will file a bill on Saturday to provide reparations for those convicted of homosexuality between 1942 and 1982.

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