'I Dislike Politicians and Homosexuals'

Language and Homophobia in France


  • Denis M. Provencher University of Maryland Baltimore County




anti-Semitism, citizenship, Bertrand Delanoë, France, heteronormativity, homophobia, masculinity, Noël Mamère, politicians, republicanism


In this essay, I examine the pragmatic and social semiotic aspects of recent hate speech against French politicians and homosexuals. In part one I analyze the discourse surrounding the 2002 stabbing of Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë in which his assailant Azedine Berkane expressed dislike for ‘politicians and homosexuals.’ The French media and authorities generally did not frame this as a ‘homophobic act’ and ignored any potentially logical association between the two terms (i.e. ‘politicians’ and ‘homosexuals’). In order to better understand his statement, I examine Berkane’s act in relation to what other spectators and participants said about it both immediately following the event and sometime after its occurrence. In part two of the essay, I link Berkane’s homophobic statement to a broader French semiotic system and set of textual practices including several examples of hate speech that occurred during an attack on Bègles mayor Noël Mamère. I analyze representative examples of hate speech received by Mamère when he performed the first and only gay marriage in France in 2004. By examining examples of hate speech from the ‘Mamère Affair,’ it is possible to gain a better understanding of the ideological underpinnings of Berkane’s seemingly illogical statement in the ‘Delanoë Affair’


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How to Cite

Provencher, D. M. (2011). ’I Dislike Politicians and Homosexuals’: Language and Homophobia in France. Gender and Language, 4(2), 287–321. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.v4i2.287