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French Official Faces Jail For Homophobic Remarks


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French Official Faces Jail For Homophobic Remarks

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: December 16, 2005 12:01 am ET

(Paris) The first person to be prosecuted under France's year-old law against homophobic speech is a member of Parliament.

Christian Vanneste, a member of the ruling UMP party, faces jail and a fine after being convicted this week.

Vanneste made a series of anti-gay speeches in Parliament. In one he called gays a "threat to humanity".

His speeches, in the lower house, are protected by parliamentary privilege but Vanneste then repeated the remarks in interviews with two newspapers which printed them.

The charge was laid by the public prosecutor in Lille laid the charge following complaints by three LGBT rights groups.

Act Up-Paris, OS Homophobie, and Sneg - an LGBT business association, called the remarks repugnant and said they could lead to physical attacks on gays.

The UMP party has distanced itself from Vanneste, 58, a professor of philosophy.

He does not deny making the remarks to the papers but says they were far from being illegal. Vanneste says that he did not say homosexuality was dangerous "only that it is inferior to heterosexuality and could, in extreme circumstances, become a danger to mankind."

The prosecutor said Vanneste was guilty as charged but made no recommendation on sentencing. Judgment will be handed down on Jan 24.

He could be fined $25,000 or sentenced to six months in jail or both.,

Sexuality was added to an existing law banning hate speech against other minorities one year ago this month.

The bill was fought by the Roman Catholic church which claimed it could be used against priests who speak out against homosexuality or to censor the Bible.

Despite the concerns of the Church, the legislation had little difficulty in passing. But, even with the backing of President Jacques Chirac the legislation faced a barrage of criticism including some of the worst anti-gay remarks ever heard in the chamber - much of it coming from members of Chirac's own party. (story)

The government drafted the law after a young gay man was brutally attacked. After he was beaten his assailants poured gasoline on him and set him on fire leaving him severely burned.

<>©365Gay.com 2005


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