French court fines politician for using word from Bible to describe homosexuality
November 4, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — French politician and former housing minister Christine Boutin was convicted of “hate speech” on Wednesday by the Court of Appeals of Paris for having called homosexuality an “abomination” in an interview with the high-brow political magazine Charles in March 2014.
Boutin was ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 euro (more than $5,500 USD), as well as 2,000 euro each in damages to three gay associations, “Mousse,” “Le Refuge,” and “Inter-LGBT.”
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 offense.
The public prosecutor and the three senior judges of the 7th penal chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal agreed that Boutin committed an offense with regard to French “anti-racist” 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 sex, age, nationality, ethnicity, handicap and, more recently, “sexual orientation.”
The judgment confirmed a prior condemnation in December 2015 by a penal tribunal in Paris and added more damages in favor 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 mobilization 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. The group avoids involvement in political debate over the abolition of legal abortion.
Boutin was every bit as cautious in her interview with Charles, in the way the Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks about homosexuality, taking care to distinguish between persons and their acts, and then some. But that was not enough to avoid scrutiny.
During the talk with a female journalist, Boutin was asked whether the fact that her openly-gay communications adviser was not in “contradiction” with her declaration to another magazine in 1999, saying “homosexuality is an abomination as it is said most clearly in the Old and in the New Testament.”
Boutin answered, “It isn’t contradictory at all. (…) I have never condemned a homosexual. Never. It is not possible. Homosexuality is an abomination. Not the person.”
“You’ll admit that the boundary may seem very fine,” the journalist said.
Boutin replied, “‘Oh, no, it is not the same thing! For me, the difference is the same as between the sin and the sinner. 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! But as far as sexual behavior goes, everyone does as one can. I’m not even saying as one wants; I’m saying as one can.
“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. I am in sin also, I am a sinner (she laughs). But you will never hear me glorifying a sin. Even if I can forgive a sin.”
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 “awkward terms.” “Abomination,” according to the Dictionary of the Académie française, means “that which provokes horror.” Boutin 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.”
At that point, various LGBT movements had already filed a complaint against Boutin.
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”.
At the hearing before the Court of Appeal, Boutin explained that she hesitated about answering the question that referred “to a quote from the Old and the New Testament,” but went ahead in order to take advantage of the possibility of “clarifying her thoughts” on the subject. “My opinion fits in with Christian tradition,” she said, adding that she was to regret her words afterward.
Her legal counsel argued that Boutin was being prosecuted for an “opinion.” “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!” he said.
The prosecutor had just stated: “What one hears in your words is that homosexuals are an abomination.”
It is not yet clear whether Boutin will take her case to the Court of Cassation.