CAYEUX. Will Caroline Cayeux remain minister after her controversial remarks, then her apologies, on same-sex marriage? The septuagenarian does not enjoy strong support.
[Mise à jour le 18 juillet 2022 à 11h22] Words that “hurt many of our compatriots”, “unacceptable”, but “all members of the government are committed to the fight against homophobia.” Monday, July 18, 2022, several members of the majority still provided after-sales service on the Caroline Cayeux file. The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, that of Relations with Parliament, Franck Riester, or even the head of LREM deputies, Aurore Bergé, continued to play firefighters to put out the fire lit by the Minister Delegate for Communities territorial authorities, who had assured that she had “many friends among all these people” to defend herself from being homophobic despite her opposition to same-sex marriage (read below). It is with a certain feverishness that the now former LR mayor of Beauvais (Oise) is defended. “I think Caroline Cayeux understood it: she removed them”, commented Bruno Le Maire on RTL. A column, published in the Sunday newspaper Saturday July 16, however, calls into question the mea culpa of the septuagenarian. From there to finding themselves in difficulty to stay in government?
This has been the question since Caroline Cayeux made her remarks on Public Senate : can it be maintained in government? His colleagues at the head of ministries kick in touch. “I think it’s not up to me to decide who can or cannot stay in government”, evacuated Bruno Le Maire, just like Franck Riester, on France Inter : “it’s not up to me to define the government team.” If no one endorsed his remarks under the golds of the republic, the tribune published in the JDD does not clearly call for the resignation of the Minister for Territorial Cohesion.
The latter, in an interview with Parisian Thursday, July 14, has also eluded the subject despite a clear question: “The President of the Republic and the Prime Minister have appointed me Minister Delegate in charge of Local Authorities so that I can do my job. I have been working on it since the first day tirelessly. I have many projects ahead of me, in order to fight effectively against territorial divisions and maintain a constructive dialogue with all local elected officials.”
It all starts Monday, July 11, with a column from the magazine Stubborn demanding the departure from the government of all those who have been linked to the Manif pour tous. Tuesday July 12, Caroline Cayeux, is questioned on her positions about marriage for all, on Public Senate. Indeed, when she was a senator, she called same-sex union a “whim” and a “design against nature.” The minister first assured that she stood by her words, then said that she had been enforcing the law since it was passed. She adds that she has never paraded with the Manif pour tous, before saying: “I have a lot of friends among all these people and frankly, it’s a bad trial that I’m being made”.
A petition calls for the departure of “notorious LGBTQIAphobic” ministers: “It’s a bad trial that I’m being made and which upset me a lot. I’ve never been part of the Manif pour tous, let’s be clear”, defends itself @carolinecayeux #HelloHome pic.twitter.com/xgNqJPR1Hk
The expression “these people” immediately caused many politicians, journalists and Internet users to react, leading the minister to apologize on Tuesday afternoon. “My words hurt many of you. I deeply regret them, they were understandably inappropriate,” she wrote on Twitter. On Wednesday July 13, several associations fighting against homophobia (Mousse, STOP Homophobia, LGBT Sports, LGBT Education, LGBT Families and Adheos) announced that they had filed a complaint against Caroline Cayeux.
The Minister Delegate for Local Authorities then reiterates her apologies, this time in the columns of the Parisian, Thursday, July 14. In this interview, Caroline Cayeux explains: “The comments mentioned go back ten years. […] I understand that these stupid and clumsy words could have hurt so much. I would like to renew all my most sincere apologies here, because they do not reflect my thoughts at all.” But will this questioning be enough to stay in government?
Saturday July 16, 2022, 129 personalities signed a platform in the JDD to denounce the words of Caroline Cayeux. Among the signatories, hosts Christophe Beaugrand and Alex Goude, Delphine Burkli, mayor of the 9th arrondissement of Paris, Mathieu Gallet, ex-CEO of Radio France, Joël Giraud, LREM deputy and former minister, ex-minister Jack Lang, Jean -Pierre Lecoq, mayor of the 6th arrondissement of Paris, Ambroise Méjean, president of Young People with Macron, Michèle Rubirola, 1st deputy mayor of Marseille, or even… Manuel Valls, former Prime Minister.
In their writings, the signatories affirmed that “his remarks [ont] hurt many of us personally, but, above all, they [ont] undermined our daily efforts to enforce republican principles in our territories.” “How can we accept that a member of the executive, whose primary role is to ensure the application of the laws, can call “those people “French citizens? How not to see that, in his mind, they do not belong to the same category of citizens?”, they wondered, before adding: “the question is not whether this new minister has, in those around him, friends among “those people”, like a mask over his prejudices. She deliberately chose to maintain homophobic remarks: it is certainly reprehensible.” The authors of the forum also called for “defending not this or that community, but respect for the principle of equality and legality by a member of the government.”
A first petition, launched by the magazine Stubborn on July 11, demands the departure of three ministers who had links with the Manif pour tous. A hundred activists and elected officials signed it. Minister Caroline Cayeux is targeted for having said to the Senate in 2012: “Marriage for all and the right to adoption is not simply a plan that goes against nature, but it is more serious”. In addition, Christophe Béchu, Minister of Ecology and Energy Transition and Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior, are also criticized for comments deemed homophobic.
Caroline Cayeux, former supporter of François Fillon, was appointed Minister of Territorial Communities, Monday July 4, 2022. On Twitter, she had expressed her commitment. “This mark of confidence honors me and obliges me. I know how rich our territories are for our country. I will defend them tirelessly,” she wrote. She had, at first, assured that she wanted to keep her mandate as mayor of Beauvais, before finally resigning. She had held this role for 20 years, but preferred not to combine several mandates. The new mayoral election will take place in July.
The politician was born on 1er November 1948 in Paris, she is the daughter of Doctor Pierre Fournier, former President of the Council of the National Order of Pharmacists from 1979 to 1987. After a degree in English and a higher diploma in private international law, she became a teacher then responsible of a professional training organization. She began her political career in 1997, when Philippe Séguin called her to the executive committee of the RPR. In 2001, she created a surprise by beating the outgoing mayor of Beauvais, a socialist in place for 24 years.
In addition to her duties as mayor, Caroline Cayeux was regional councilor for Picardie from 2004 to 2011, then senator from 2011 to 2017, where she was vice-president of the social affairs commission. Since 1er January 2020, she is also president of the National Agency for Territorial Cohesion. She left the Les Républicains party in 2018 and signed, in 2021, a column published by the Sunday newspaperin which she joins 600 local elected officials in favor of a second term for Emmanuel Macron.