French society is less racist, less sexist and less homophobic today compared to 20 years ago, a report this week has found, but intolerant sections of society are becoming more aggressive when voicing their views.
Published by the Observatory of Inequalities, the report said French society was more open than it was in 2003, with sexism, racism and homophobia on the decline.
On the other hand, violence linked to certain "expressions of intolerance" remains stable, and in some cases has even been increasing.
The French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) maintains that between 2003 and 2023 the proportion of French people who say they are "not at all racist" has doubled, rising from 30 percent to 60 percent.
In addition, three times fewer French people believe that "superior races" exist: five percent today, compared with 14 percent 20 years ago.
There has also been a downward trend in homophobia, with 85 percent of those questioned believing that homosexuality is "just another way of experiencing one's sexuality", according to Ifop.
This compares with 67 percent 20 years ago.
Meanwhile, data from the Ministry of Solidarity indicates that sexism is also less prevalent among the French.
The proportion of people who believe that "ideally, women should stay at home to bring up their children" was halved, falling from 40 percent to 20 percent.
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'Crimes of intolerance' still on rise
Despite the improvements, "the most violent expressions of racism, sexism and LGBTphobia are not diminishing", the study found, citing data from the Ministry of the Interior.
In 2022, 12,500 racist crimes and offences were recorded by the police, along with some 2,400 anti-LGBTQI+ crimes and offences the same year – figures that have risen steadily over the past five years.
Some 200,000 sexist crimes were reported in 2020, with disabled people 60 percent more likely than able-bodied people to experience physical or sexual violence.
"More than 500,000 people report having been subjected to racist abuse, 150,000 to homophobic abuse and 1.4 million women to sexist abuse in the course of a year," the report said.
These figures, however, are partly linked to people more readily speaking out about violent forms of discrimination – incidents that were previously hushed up are more often reported and better recorded.