French lawmakers pass antihomophobia bill
A bill to outlaw homophobia in France was approved by the French government on Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reports. The bill, which will go before parliament next month, will make "incitement to discrimination, hatred, or violence against a person on the basis of gender or sexual orientation" punishable by a year in prison and a $54,000 fine. The proposed law was conceived in the wake of a vicious attack on a gay man who was badly burned earlier this year. It puts sexist and homophobic remarks on the same criminal level as words encouraging racism or anti-Semitism.
At the weekly cabinet meeting President Jacques Chirac said he hopes the law would "bring to an abrupt end these very serious acts," his spokesman told Agence France-Presse. Justice minister Dominique Perben said the proposed law owes much to the story of Sebastian Nouchet, who was attacked at his home in northern France in January and sprayed with petrol. "This law is in some way the Nouchet law," he said. The bill enters the process of ratification just after the center-right
government took steps to punish a mayor--Green Party politician Noël Mamère--who earlier this month performed France's first-ever same-sex marriage ceremony.