By John-Henry Westen

LILLE, France, January 26, 2006 ( – A court in Lille handed down its sentenceÂon a French Parliamentarian Tuesday, fining him 3000 Euros and forcing him to pay an additional 6000 Euros to be split between three homosexual activist groups who brought the charges against the MP. Christian Vanneste, a member of the UMP representing the Lille region was found guilty in December on charges of violating a French law barring “hate speech” against homosexuals.

However, Vanneste in the remarks upon which the charges were based and in his defence, was clear that he was not speaking against homosexual persons but homosexual sex acts. In his defence he said “Homosexual acts are socially and morally inferior . . . To describe a behavior which is not beneficial for society is not discriminating against those who make the choice of homosexuality,” he said.

The remarks which were found to be offensive were originally made in parliament during the debate on the hate speech law which Vanneste opposed, and more recently repeated to newspapers. In Parliament he said that the idea of making “homophobia” illegal was a “contradiction in terms … This will bolster the notion that homosexual behaviour has the same value as any other kind of behaviour, when, in fact, it is obvious that it is a threat to the survival of humanity.”

The conviction and sentence marks the first politician to be prosecuted under France’s homosexual hate speech law that was enacted in December 2004.

Vanneste said the ruling was extremely grave and calls into question freedom of expression. He said he would appeal the decision.

The ruling also impinges on freedom of religion since criminalizing speech against homosexual acts would lead to charges against persons stating the faith positions of major religions.

Comments against homosexual acts are common from Christians who believe, as a matter of faith, that such acts are gravely immoral. Homosexual acts are portrayed in Scripture as a “grave depravity” and an “abomination.” Also, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that such acts are “intrinsically disordered and contrary to the natural law,” adding that “they can never be approved.”