Gay Pride 07/10/2021, Toulouse, France” / © Eloïse Sudre
“Gay Pride 07/10/2021, Toulouse, France” / © Eloïse Sudre

The struggle to obtain LGBT’s rights was long and complex in many countries but the path is still long. France and the United States finally legalized gay marriage a few years ago. Here are their evolutions through the past years. 

Homosexuality : a mental disease

Homosexuality used to be frowned upon to the point that it was deemed a mental disease in both countries. In 1896 in the US, with the conception of psychoanalysis by the neurologist Sigmund Freud, homosexuality began to be seen as a mental disease. Some works maintained that homosexuality could lead to other pathologies such as madness or epilepsy. After the publication of several studies normalizing homosexuality, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) decided to cross homosexuality out of the list of mental illnesses.

 In France as well, the World Health Organization included homosexuality in the ranking of mental illnesses in 1968 and removed it only in 1981.

A revolt which turned into a liberating movement

Even though gay marriage was not legalized yet in the US, the Stonewall riots marked a turning point in the fight for homosexuals rights. In 1969 in New York, a series of riots occurred between the police and hundreds of gay people because the police used to arrest them in front of a bar called “Stonewall Inn”. Since then, a movement of support for the LGBT community was born. Homosexuality was gradually accepted by citizens but remained a tricky topic for the American government.

A progressive advance towards the legalization of gay marriage

The city of Berkeley in US authorized gay people to do a kind of  “partnership” in 1984. This new agreement gave them almost the same rights as straight married couples. Later in 1992, Washington City legalized it as well. A few years later, France also took a step forward by establishing the PACS (contract of civil union). The PACS was voted on September 15th, 1999 under Lionel Jospin’s government. Once again, it was a way to give heterosexual people more fiscal and succession’s rights without allowing them to get married. 

A long-awaited victory

In 2004 the state of Massachussets was the first in the United States to legalize gay marriage. Many other American states followed and did the same thing. In 2013, 37 states had finally legalized it.

2013 was a significant year for both countries. France took the lead and legalized same-sex marriage on May 17th, 2013 across the country. 

Two years later, on June 26th, 2015, the US also legalized gay marriage at a national level.