'We will not yield', French lawmaker says after death threats over vaccine pass

French Health Minister Olivier Veran delivers a speech during the opening debate on the French government's planned bill to transform the current health pass into a vaccine pass, at the National Assembly in Paris, France, on Jan 3, 2022.
PHOTO: Reuters

PARIS - French lawmakers said on Monday (Jan 3) they would not be cowed by death threats that dozens of them received over a Bill that will require people to show proof of vaccination to go to a restaurant or cinema or take the train.

The new law, which would remove the option of showing a negative test result for Covid-19 instead of having the jabs, has the backing of most parties and is almost certain to be passed by the Lower House in a vote late on Monday or early Tuesday.

But the proposed tightening of the rules has caused an upsurge of anger among anti-vaxxers, with some lawmakers saying they have been subject to aggression including vandalism of property and violent threats.

"We will not yield," lawmaker Yael Braun-Pivet told Parliament, referring to death threats which she said lawmakers of all political stripes had received. "It's our democracy that is at stake."

The vaccine pass is aimed at saving lives, Health Minister Olivier Veran said, lambasting the "selfishness" of those who oppose immunisations and saying that death threats against lawmakers will not go unpunished.

Last week, the garage of a ruling party lawmaker was set on fire, with graffiti by suspected anti-vaccination protesters scrawled on an adjacent wall.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has said the police will strengthen protections for lawmakers after several of them from ruling party La Republique en Marche went public with death threats.


One of them, Ms Barbara Bessot Ballot, said 52 lawmakers had received messages threatening to kill them for "attacking our freedom", adding on Twitter: "Those death threats are unacceptable."

France has traditionally had more vaccine sceptics than many of its neighbours. The country, however, has one of the European Union's highest Covid-19 vaccination rates, at nearly 90 per cent for those aged 12 and above.

For months, people have had to show either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test at many public venues. But as infections with the Delta and Omicron variants surge, the government has decided to drop the negative test option.

It aims for the vaccine pass to enter into force in mid-January, following approval by both Houses of Parliament.

A protest will be held in front of Parliament at 5pm, as the debate takes place inside.

France saw large crowds rally against the health pass when it was introduced in the summer, but attendance at the weekend rallies dwindled as acceptance of the vaccine rose.

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