France’s Answer To Donald Trump Just Won A Spot On The Ballot. And Gays Helped

Marine Le Pen has promised to repeal France's same-sex marriage law.

The results of the election in France over the weekend are in, and far-right politician Marine Le Pen has secured a spot in the final runoff against moderate Emmanuel Macron on May 7.

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 4: Marine Le Pen, Leader of the National Front (FN), far-right political party in France, discovers a product color of the French flag during her visit to the International Lepine Contest on May 4, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Vincent Isore/IP3/Getty Images)
Vincent Isore/IP3/Getty Images

Le Pen, who garnered 21.7% of the vote to Macron’s 23.7%, is head of the National Front (FN), a party founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 1972. Though it’s tried to rebrand itself as more mainstream, FN has a history of rabid anti-Semitism, xenophobia and homophobia. Le Pen has wisely distanced herself from some of her father’s more extremist views—he denied the Holocaust happened, opposed France’s membership of the EU and called homosexuals a “biological anomaly.” But she’s promised to repeal France’s marriage equality law and return to civil unions, which were first introduced in 1999.

Amazingly, the National Front has garnered noticeable support among LGBT voters, or at least gay men. In a poll on the gay dating app Hornet, one in five respondents said they were voting for Le Pen. And FN actually has more high-level gay leaders than any other major party in France—a list that includes Le Pen’s closest adviser, Florian Philippot.

“Homosexuality itself isn’t the only thing I vote for,” an engineering student told the BBC last week. “There are priorities in France other than homosexuality. I myself am in a same-sex couple and there have been many advances in this area. But for me there are more pressing issues like the economy, the national debt and unemployment.”

As for Le Pen’s threat of repealing same-sex marriage, her queer supporters say it’s just a bluff: “In my view, she won’t do it. If the FN were to win, she would prioritize other things.”

Participants dressed as Marianne, symbol of the French Republic, gestures as they take part in a demonstration organised by the movement 'La Manif pour tous' against what are seen as 'new offensives against the family and education', in Paris on October 16, 2016.   / AFP / CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT        (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)

What are those “other things”? They’re mostly the same views that inspired 20% of gay Americans to vote for Donald Trump. Most notably, a hard stance against immigration: Like Le Pen’s posited Muslim immigrants as a threat to France’s LGBT community.”Where are the gays most in danger? In Islamic countries,” another gay Le Pen supporter told the BBC. “Gay people are being crucified—it’s a danger and I don’t want it coming to France, definitely not.”

According to polls, Macron is projected to garner 65% of the vote against Le Pen next month. But as American voters know, you can’t always predict how an election will go.

“The French have expressed their desire for change,” Macron told AFP in a statement. “We’re clearly turning a page in French political history.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.