French Senate Votes for Power to Dissolve Associations Holding Segregated Meetings

French Senators attend a session to elect the chamber's president following senatorial elections, on October 1, 2020, at the French Senate in Paris. - The right-wing opposition on September 28 claimed victory in elections for France's upper house, underlining the political struggles of the centrist ruling party. French Senate members …
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The French Senate has passed a bill that would authorise the dissolution of associations that hold meetings that exclude people from attending based on their race, ethnicity, sex, or religion.

The new powers were introduced as an amendment to a bill to counter separatism put forward by centre-right Les Républicains (The Republicans) Senator Stéphane Le Rudulier.

The measures will allow the dissolution of groups which “prohibit a person or group of persons because of their [skin] colour, origin, or membership or non-membership of a specific ethnicity, nation, race, or religion from participating in a meeting”.

The amendment comes in the wake of a controversy surrounding the National Union of Students of France (Unef), which allegedly held meetings reserved for non-white people.

According to last month’s report from broadcaster BFMTV, the student union has supported similar segregationist meetings for the last several years, including an Afro-feminist music festival that featured black women-only meetings as early as 2016.

Minister in charge of Citizenship, Marlene Schiappa, a key ally of President Emmanuel Macron, argued that the amendment could be unconstitutional and said she supported closed “experience-based” meetings based on experiences such as sexual assault, but not closed “identity-based” groups.

Earlier in the week, the French Interior Ministry invoked the concept of separatism when it banned three Islamist associations from meetings with government officials after the groups refused to sign a republican values charter for Islam in France that the government had developed last year.

The Indo-Pakistani-origin association “Faith and Practise” as well as the two Turkish-origin associations Islamic Confederation of Mili Gorus and the Coordinating Committee of Turkish Muslims of France are the three groups affected by the move.

According to a directive sent from the Interior Ministry and obtained by the newspaper Le Figaro, the reason for the ban was the organisations’ unwillingness to condemn political Islam.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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