Member of Parliament Sued for "Homophobic Insults"

Country: France

Date of incident: January 26, 2005

Category: Government Restrictions

Attack against: Morals

Area of case: Governmental



French member of parliament, Christian Vanneste, sentenced to payments for "homophobic insults"; three years later acquitted by last juridical instance.

Christian Vanneste, a French UMP Deputy of Tourcoing (North), was condemned on the 24th of January 2006 by the tribunal of Lille for “indicement to hatred in reason of the sexual orientation of the persons aimed at”. He was sanctioned to pay 3000 euro as fine and 2000 euros to each one of the associations suing him : SOS Homophobie, Act Up and SNEG (syndicat national des enterprises gaies), plus 1000 euros to each for their legal costs. Then he had to publish in Le Monde, l’Express and La Voix du Nord the judgment. This for having said in the newspaper  “La voix du Nord” in January 2005:  “Homosexuality is a menace for the survival of humanity (…) I didn’t say that homosexuality was dangerous. I said it was inferior (he meant morally) to heterosexuality. If you would push it to the universal, it would be dangerous for humanity. (…) For me their behaviour is sectarian.”
On November 12, 2008, the French Court of Cassation, the highest court in the French judiciary, has acquitted Mr Vanneste, stating that what he said was covered by freedom of speech.
In its French original, the decision reads: Le cour de cassation a finalement reconnu que « l’opinion exprimée par le député Christian Vanneste selon laquelle “il existe un modèle social qui est celui du mariage hétérosexuel et de l’éducation des enfants” et selon laquelle face à ce modèle social l’homosexualité est “une menace pour la survie de l’humanité”, constitue l’expression d’une opinion et à ce titre ne dépasse pas les limites admissibles de la liberté d’expression et ne peut, en conséquence, constituer une injure (au sens de la loi sur la presse) ; [...] les expressions utilisées par Christian Vanneste sont mesurées, exemptes de toute invective et de volonté de blesser, ayant pour seul objet de nourrir un débat quant à la nécessité d’adopter le texte qui sert de base à l’incrimination ; qu’ainsi ces propos ne dépassaient pas les limites admissibles de la liberté d’expression... »