“Sir, are you an invert? » Bernard Bousset, 81, will never forget these words from the president of the court before whom he appeared, in the mid-1960s in Haute-Savoie, for having maintained an intimate relationship with an 18-year-old boy, while he was 23. “You took a bath with an underage young man. For what ? »continues the magistrate. “Mr. President, there was not enough hot water in the tank to fill the bathtub twice”, defends the defendant. The court sentences him to a fine, to which is added the publication of the judgment in the local newspaper. “I was like, ‘My God, when my dad and my family are going to read this…’”, remembers the person concerned. “We carried a defect on our shoulders, the weight of a society which considered us sick, delinquents. »
The testimony of Bernard Bousset opens the series “The Clandestine Years”, published by The world in August 2022, dedicated to this time when ity was still an offense in France, punishable by three years of imprisonment. It was after reading this investigation, signed by journalist Ariane Chemin, that the socialist senator from Hérault, Hussein Bourgi, took up the subject. A bill, which he tabled, will be debated on Wednesday November 22 in the Senate to rehabilitate these people and recognize the responsibility of the State in this discrimination.
The text provides for the creation of an independent commission also aiming to compensate them, to the tune of 10,000 euros. It was signed by the socialist, environmentalist, communist groups and radical and centrist senators and by Les Républicains (LR).
The research cited by the Senate estimates that more than 10,000 people were convicted between 1945 and 1982. In 90% of cases, a prison sentence was imposed. According to Régis Schlagdenhauffen, lecturer at the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, a third of the condemned were married and a quarter were parents.
The story of a paradox
The elected official at the origin of the bill had been made aware, twenty years earlier, during a conference organized in Montpellier for the 20e anniversary of the law decriminalizing ity (1982), attended former socialist senator Jean-Pierre Michelrapporteur on civil partnerships and marriage for all. “That day I listened to the litany of testimonies from these condemned people, their suffering, their anger, these lives shattered by police intrusions, the public humiliation of these press articles giving the names of those arrested, out of a taste for scandal, explains Mr. Bourgi. I discovered a little-known page of French history. Thus the story of the Lyonnais Michel Chomarat, condemned because he was in a gay Parisian club, Le Manhattan. He reminded me recently: the last witnesses are dying. »
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