“Mademoiselle” Becomes a Human Rights Battle

A French lawyer and right of centre MP Alexandre-Guillaume Tollinchi has lost a bid before the Council of State (France’s highest appeal forum) to rollback a government edict effectively removing Mademoiselle as an official form of address in France.

Alexandre-Guillaume Tollinchi a UMP-supporting lawyer is taking the Mademoiselle matter to the European Court of Human Rights

But he promises to take the matter all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The Council of State has now rejected the appeal the UMP deputy for Aix-en-Provence had tabled in the name of the “Libérez les mademoiselles” or Free Mademoiselles association.

On his own blog picked up by French media, he wrote: “I asked for an annulment of the edict published by François Fillon and Roselyne Bachelot (cabinet members in the last government)    —  at the time captured by the leftwing feminist lobbies Osez le Féminisme and Chiennes de garde that required the public service to remove “Mademoiselle” as a form of address from all national administrative documents. In its place I suggested this edict be replaced by one allowing women the freedom to choose the form of address that they prefer.

“While my application was largely based on law, and although I have taken note of the judgment with equanimity, the outcome does raise an issue about the political nature of the institution (Council of State).

“We have just deprived unmarried women of a fundamental freedom — that of the right to decide how they wish to be addressed – along with their right to choose their status in society. We are also impinging on their privacy and furthermore I believe that women in the professions are now at risk thanks to this edict.

“We have by confirming this edict, imposed on unmarried women a presumption of marriage that could harm their careers – in parts of the private sector – and is in any event  detrimental to respect for their private and family life. We have now banned all female artistes who even when married, have always referred to themselves in their artistic careers, as “Demoiselles” from continuing to use this term. And finally we have also imposed an obligation to refer to young children as “Madame” which is plainly ridiculous.

“The end of the use of the term “Mademoiselle” – which is normally used up to marriage – is a further indirect and heavy blow to the institution  of marriage, abolishing a fundamental social distinction, and stranding it on the shores of the socialist dream that the move embodies.

“I for my part will continue to defend freedom for women, and to use the term Mademoiselle as a form of address. I invite each and every one of you, and mainly our elected officials to do the same when interacting with the citizens.

“Human rights and freedoms have lost a battle, but great victories necessarily face snags and difficulties before they are achieved.

“I would like to state that I will take this case to the European Court of Human Rights, in order to preserve the freedom of women freely to choose their preferred form of address without having this decision imposed upon them.

“I will also ask for France to be judged in violation of Article 6 § 1 on fair trial, to the extent that under the current procedures it is not possible to learn in advance the content of the Council of State’s finding and  prepare a response.”

As French-News-Online reported earlier: According to the MCETV website Alexandre-Guillaume Tollinchi a UMP-supporting lawyer, is seeking to overturn the edict on the suppression of the term “Mademoiselle“.

He says for French-speakers “Mademoiselle ” is a question of polite civility. The lawyer claims that any government order to remove the term from administrative documents would be null because it overrides the authority of l’Académie Française: “The executive cannot substitute itself for l’Académie Française when it comes to regulating mandatory usage in the language […] above all, the Prime Minister has no power to remove a term from administrative documents. Under the law as promulgated, even ‘if the Prime Minister has hierarchic authority over the administration, he cannot exceed his powers […] by regulating requirements that […] restrict French language usage’. Additionally the move ‘violates the constitution’[…]” The lawyer says use of “madame” or “mademoiselle” cannot be imposed without the consent of the interested parties themselves […] women must retain freedom of choice to describe themselves in their relationship with state institutions. To retain this right of expression, “mademoiselle” must be allowed to be used as the French themselves see fit”.

He criticised what he sees as the rapid capitulation by government to the “influence of politicised pressure groups trampling on civil liberties.” He was referring to the two feminist lobby groups Osez le Féminisme andChiennes de garde (Dare Feminism and Guard Dogs — actually ‘Bitches’ because the French word is feminine!) which have headed the abolish mademoiselle campaign.

In its finding the Council of State in part said:  “there was no intention in this edict nor was there any effect of imposing an obligation on individuals to use certain words or phrases.” The Council added  “the edict does not constitute an order”. In it the Prime Minister  “prescribed that members of the Government, regional prefects and prefectures should instruct the services under their authority” to eliminate wherever possible from their forms and their correspondence “the term Mademoiselle replacing it with Madame “.

On Twitter, Cécile Duflot, the present Housing Minister welcomed the recent decision, with a tweeted message of thanks to the Council of State:

Story: Ken Pottinger
editorial@french-news-online.com

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