Current Affairs

French UMP ‘expelling’ Vanneste over gay comments

Stephen Gray February 15, 2012
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The French UMP party of French president Nicolas Sarkozy is reportedly expelling Christian Vanneste for comments he made about gay people and gay history in a video released this week.

AP reports that Jean-Francois Cope, the secretary general, will expel Vanneste over the “deeply shocking and intolerable comments”.

Vanneste said in a film for Catholic week that narcissism was a fundamental element of homosexuality as as gays “refuse the other” sex.

He also said gays had not been deported from wider France during World War 2, only being removed from the eastern regions annexed by Nazi Germany.

Vanneste is set to be ousted as the UMP party MP for a region in northern France in a decision which will reportedly be finalised next week ahead of this spring’s presidential elections.

He told AFP: “If my comments were inexact, then prove this to me and I will withdraw them immediately and will apologise.”

In 2006, Vanneste became the first French politician in history to be prosecuted for homophobic speech. His conviction was overturned two years later on grounds of free speech.

His latest comments form part of a video called ‘Favoriser la famille pour preparer l’avenir’, or ‘Favouring the family to prepare for the future’.

In the twenty-minute video, Vanneste suggests with a wry smile that gays have a “little preference” for younger men who resemble themselves when they were between 17 and 20 years old.

He also claims that gay rights issues are given a prominence in politics and media which exaggerates their relevance to public life around France.

French newspaper The Local reported presidential hopeful François Hollande’s spokesperson branding Vanneste’s views “nauseating ideology”.

Hollande has committed to legalise same-sex marriage in France if his presidential bid is successful this spring.

Nadine Morano, UMP’s Apprenticeship and Professional Formation minister called on Twitter for Vanneste to be ejected from the party.

In 2008 Vanneste had his conviction and fine for homophobic speech overturned. He had said homosexuality was “inferior to heterosexuality, and could be dangerous for humanity” and became the first politician in French history to be prosecuted for homophobic remarks.

The Cour de Cassation overturned the lower court ruling in the name of freedom of speech, stating that “if the disputed remarks were able to hurt the feelings of certain homosexual people, their contents do not go beyond the limits of freedom of expression.”

The full video, in French, can be seen on the website.

More: Europe, Europe, France, history of world war two, Homophobia, Nazis, Politics, presidential election, Sarkozy

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