Thursday, January 23, 2020

Monaco Moves Forward

Before launching into the new decade, the Principality of Monaco has taken vital steps forward in terms of LGBTQ equality rights.

Same sex couples in the principality will now be able to benefit from a host of legal rights that are afforded to married couples and their children under a new Free Union Law that was passed in early December by the National Council.

The elected member of the Monaco Parliament, Pierre Van Klaveren, read a detailed report on Bill 974 and the civil contracts of solidarity, the law of common life contract and the contract of coexistence which were all unanimously adopted by the Monaco National Council on December 4th, 2019.

The President of the National Council Stephane Valeri said, "It's true, we would have preferred two different texts, but as we are pragmatic, we had declared ourselves ready to accept a single law, if it had two separate elements, with separate rights for couples and families, without hypocrisy, because of course their relationships are different. It's done."

Thankfully for now, the rights recognized to couples, of the same sex or of different sex, protect a person in some of the hardest situations of their life, such as in health issues through the social coverage of the partner, or in the time of death so that there is a more favourable succession of rights or co-ownership of an estate.
Unfortunately still to date, Mr. Valeri made a point of saying that the common life contract is very different from a marriage contract, which at this time remains unattainable for same sex couples in Monaco.

French law states, the union libre is an agreement between adults which grants rights between parents and potential children, but holds no obligation of sexual fidelity, nor does it grant reciprocal duties and rights between partners.
Mr. Valeri mentioned at the end of the meeting, "Through the joint work of the Monaco Government and the National Council, we are moving our country even more on the path of modernity."

"This is good news firstly for all concerned couples...and I know there are many of us tonight. These couples will be able to benefit from recognition of their situation, to which they can legitimately aspire. It is excellent news for the international image of Monaco, a modern state which is always respectful of it's institutions and values."

Monaco has always been known as a free living, yet to a small extent a religious country but in the past number of years has started to show far more acceptance to members of the LGBTQI community and continues to provide a safe environment in which to visit.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Apollo, The Naughty Nude Statue in Nice

Let’s start the new decade off with a story about a nude male statue.

It may sound like an odd subject, a statue in yet another square of France but the Apollo statue at Place Massena in Nice comes with a short but interesting history.

And frankly, given the current cancel culture, the Apollo statue might not happen at all these days.

The statue is a must-see yet can’t-miss white marble sculpture in what is considered the heart of the city of Nice at Place Massena and amongst other works of public art, the parks, historic architecture and tons of boutiques at the edge of Vieux Nice.

First erected at the Sun Fountain (Fountaine du Soleil) in Nice and surrounded by 5 bronze sculptures in the basin that represent: Earth, Mars, Saturn, Mercury and Venus, the impressive marble statue of Apollo made his appearance in 1956.

Apollo stands 7 meters (23 feet) tall, weighs 7 tons, and commands your attention. And in this case, it is the one thing the statue immediately received, except this was the wrong kind of attention at the time of its unveiling.

Apollo according to mythology is to carry the sun across the sky and be pulled on a chariot by four horses. This Apollo though had no chariot but four horses on his head forming a type of crown.

At first onlookers nicknamed the sculpture “the 4 horsepower statue” claiming it reminded them of a popular automobile advertisement at the time, the Renault 4CV.

What garnered even more attention to this Apollo was the claim by some conservative locals that the the nude sculpture’s penis was far too large, yet curiously enough some older women actually thought it was too small and college students regularly started decorating it as a prank.
The new focal point of the city had now caused a full-on scandal which meant the artist in charge of the sculpture, Alfred Janniot, was told to chisel the masculine attributes down to a more appropriate size.

Being 4 times the size of a regular man, his penis was naturally super-sized and still caught the eye.

So after many years of being a local joke, mocked and routinely vandalized, in 1979, a women’s Catholic group succeeded in having Apollo dethroned and moved to a football stadium in the North part of Nice and out of sight of most tourists.

Meanwhile what was left of the location of the statue seemed to lack any tourism interest and was yet just another fountain in a French city that after time slowly went into disrepair.

Fast forward to 2007, with the area of Place Massena going through a huge redevelopment with the new public tram line system and park. A local reporter wrote a nostalgic piece about the Sun Fountain which the general public took an interest in and with that the fountain was reborn with the bronze statues back at the basin but the impressive Apollo statue was still not allowed yet to return.
As beautiful as the fountain was once again, it still seemed to be missing something but thankfully a few years later in 2011, Apollo was cleaned up and reinstated to his rightful place at the center of the fountain, proudly on display surveying the area and a true centerpiece of the city lending to it being the perfect meeting point for locals and tourists around.
  It just goes to show, you can’t keep a good man down.