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Swiss court upholds conviction of essayist for homophobic remarks 

Alain Soral walks towards the camera. He is bald and wearing a black jacket, navy polo shirt and blue jeans. There are people behind him walking in the same direction.
The Frenchman, who lives in Lausanne, made derogatory comments about the sexual orientation of a female journalist and homosexuals in general in an interview published online in 2021. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

The Federal Court in Lausanne has upheld the conviction of far-right essayist Alain Soral for discrimination and incitement to hatred.  

The Frenchman, who lives in Lausanne, made derogatory comments about the sexual orientation of a female journalist and homosexuals in general in an interview published online in 2021.  

Soral, whose real name is Alain Bonnet, was convicted based on Article 261bis of the Swiss Criminal Code. Since July 1, 2020, it is also possible to punish calls for discrimination or incitement to hatred based on the sexual orientation of a person or group of people.

+ From 2020: Swiss voters accept law to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation

According to a Federal Court judgement published on Thursday, the basis of the interview was a previously published, critical newspaper article by the journalist. The Frenchman said in the interview that the article was written by a “queer activist”.  

He continued that, as a defender of the Swiss soul and spirit, he was confronting an extreme minority, and that “queer” meant degenerate. He also said he believed his ideology made him more of a champion for peace and brotherhood than a “fat activist lesbian”. 

According to the Federal Court, Soral’s choice of words were aimed at the woman’s sexual orientation and not her gender identity, and he had not used the terms queer and lesbian in a neutral way. By using the derogatory word “degenerate” and the term “fat lesbian”, he invited internet users to condemn the journalist in particular because of her sexual orientation.  

Fuelled hostility and homophobia 

According to the court, he had fuelled hostility and homophobia by presenting the writer as well as the lesbian and homosexual community as enemies of the values he represented. In addition, the court took into account reactions on the internet to ascertain the impact of Soral’s statements about third parties.  

The Federal Court partially upheld the appeal with regard to the sentence. For procedural reasons, the 30-day fine imposed for defamation remains in place, combined with a prison sentence of 40 days for discrimination and incitement to hatred. 

Translated from German by DeepL/kp 

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