A hate-speech conviction imposed on French politician and former housing minister Christine Boutin, above, has been upheld by the Court of Appeals of Paris.
Boutin breached France’s laws, which impose specific and extra heavy penalties on defamation, insults, and inciting to violence or hatred against a number of categories of persons including gay people, when she called homosexuality an “abomination” in an interview with the political magazine Charles in March 2014.
Boutin was ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 euros, as well as 2,000 euros each in damages to three gay associations, Mousse, Le Refuge, and Inter-LGBT.
Life Site’s Jeanne Smits said:
This amounts to being fined for quoting the Bible. In two separate occurrences, Leviticus uses the word abomination, which is the same in French as in English, in chapter 18, verse 22: ‘You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination’.
Clearly, the judgment also means that Christians should not express their agreement with this form of prohibition of homosexual acts if they do not want to be sanctioned for a criminal offence.
The public prosecutor and the three senior judges of the 7th penal chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal agreed that Boutin committed an offence when she used the word “abomination”.
The judgment confirmed a prior conviction in December 2015 by a penal tribunal in Paris and added more damages in favour of the Inter-LGBT group, which had not been deemed admissible at the first hearings.
Boutin is well known for having opposed civil unions for homosexuals. She was a figurehead in the mobilisation against the legal recognition of same-sex couples in 1998 as well as same-sex marriage, which became law in France in 2013.
A former member of Parliament and longtime head of the Christian-Democrats, Boutin was also the founder in 1993 of the Alliance pour les droits de la vie (Rights of life alliance), now Alliance Vita, a mainstream pro-life movement that is mainly active against abortion and euthanasia and aims to help pregnant women.
Boutin denied in the Charles interview that she was homophobic:
I have never condemned a homosexual. Never. It is not possible. Homosexuality is an abomination. Not the person … Sin is never acceptable, but the sinner is always forgiven! The two things are completely different! It’s a subtlety that is not always understood. I have homosexual friends! I promise you, they are real friends!
With my faith, a homosexual person is every bit as loved by God as I am. Thank you for letting me explain this to you: that is where a very important confusion lies. Homosexuality has nothing to do with the judgments that I make about homosexuals who are my brothers, my friends, and whose dignity every bit as large as that of people who have other sexual behaviors. They are sinners like I am. We are all sinners …
These are the words for which Boutin was prosecuted and doubly condemned, in the first instance and then in appeal. No matter how carefully she worded her response, she used at least one word too many. The gay press was quick to pick it up and to slam her condemnation of homosexuality. The mainstream press denounced her as homophobic.
Days later, Boutin backpedaled, publicly proclaiming that she had used an “awkward term”.
She said in a communiqué:
Following the numerous reactions to the words I used in an interview with Charles magazine, I admit that the word abomination, taken out of its original context and of the complete text I spoke, in which it was included, can have been an awkward term. I made no personal attack and I regret that the meaning of my words can have been misunderstood, or have hurt people. There was no intention at all of hurting anyone.
Her explanations show that gay activists are prepared to take words out of context in order to gag free speech and the expression of religious convictions. But in or out of context, ‘abomination’ is a hard word, and the Bible, be it in the Old Testament or the New Testament, does not back off from using vigorous language about sins, including homosexual acts, that deserve ‘hellfire’, ‘the punishment of eternal fire’.
These are a lot worse than any hypothetical ‘hatred’ that Boutin has been found guilty of nourishing against homosexuality.
Boutin’s legal counsel argued that she was being prosecuted for an “opinion”. He hold the appeals court:
Your decision will have immense consequences for freedom of expression. If you follow the prosecutor’s demands, then you will have to seize the Bible!
It is not yet clear whether Boutin will take her case to the Court of Cassation.