Joan of Arc on Trial Again–This Time Not for Heresy, But for Homophobia

Joan of Arc was a courageous young Frenchwoman who lived in the fifteenth century–a hero in her native France, and a Roman Catholic saint.

Nicknamed the “Maid of Orleans,” Joan claimed to receive visions of St. Michael the Archangel, Saint Margaret of Antioch and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, instructing her to support France’s King Charles VII and recover France from English domination in the Hundred Years’ War.

Joan was captured, put on trial for a number of charges including heresy, and convicted by a court heavily weighted with British clergy and supporters.  Joan was burned at the stake at the age of 19, and she was beatified in 1909 and declared a saint by the Catholic Church in 1920.

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From April 29 through May 9, the city of Orleans celebrated the 585th anniversary of Joan’s death with a festival which included medieval dances and historical reenactments.

This year, though, the actress chosen to portray Joan is 17-year-old Felicite Lemaire de Marne.  Felicite is a devout Catholic, and on her Facebook page the young woman had linked to Manif pour tous.  She participated in massive demonstrations organized by Manif pour tous in February.

Call for a Boycott

So on May 6, Christophe Desportes-Guilloux, a member of the French Socialist Party and of the organization HES (Homosexuality and Socialism), wrote an article urging people to boycott the 2014 Joan of Arc festival.

According to Desportes-Guilloux, Felicite is a “homophobe” who cannot effectively “represent all the citizens of Orléans” as she should.

Felicite responded, insisting that she is neither homophobic nor anti-government.  “I condemn all acts of homophobia and violence,” she insists, “but I have my beliefs; and Joan of Arc has no connection with my private life.”

That’s not sufficient for Desportes-Guilloux; and Felicite was forced to remove any reference to Manif pour tous from her Facebook page, and to issue a public apology.

What Is Manif pour tous?

La Manif pour tous is a French organization which is equivalent, perhaps, to America’s National Organization for Marriage.

Manif pour tous argues that the “Mariage pour tous” bill currently under consideration in France wreaks havoc on the Civil Code, replacing the words “husband” and “wife”, “father” and “mother” by unisex, undifferentiated terminology (notable “parents”).  According to the organization’s website:

This bill intends to erase sexual differentiation and complementarity from the law, according to Manif pour tous, and jeopardize the foundation of human identity: sexual difference and the resulting structure of parentage. It paves the way for a new, “social” parentage unrelated to human reality. It creates a framework for a new anthropological order founded not on sex but on gender, that is, sexual preference. 

Additionally, Manif pour tous argues,

With plenary adoption for two men or two women, children will be considered, by law, born of two parents of the same sex, thus willingly deprived of a father or a mother. They will be deprived of half their origins. This is profoundly discriminatory and unjust for children.

And Manif pour tous warns that the “Mariage pour tous” legislation will inevitably lead to assisted reproductive technologies for all:

The number of adoptable children of France is smaller than the number of couples waiting to adopt; hence, same-sex couples will adopt children created by PMA (procréation “médicalement” assistée– medically assisted procreation) for women, and by GPA (gestation pour autrui– surrogacy) for men. Some hundred députés (representatives) have sponsored amendments calling for these developments, and the Prime Minister has announced they would be featured in a “complementary law on the family”. 

Here is a brief video from the February 2014 protest organized by Manif pour tous.

Read the full story about Felicite and the boycott on


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