Paris court rules it’s OK to call a gay hairdresser a ‘faggot’

Paris court rules it’s OK to call a gay hairdresser a 'faggot'

According to a shock ruling by a Paris employment tribunal, calling a gay male hairdresser a “dirty faggot” is not a homophobic insult, because there are lots of gay male hairdressers.

The ruling, which emerged this week in Metronews, has sparked obvious anger among the gay community, who have been left stunned, not only by the judgement but also by the tribunal’s explanation.

The ruling relates to the sacking of a hairdresser in Paris last year after he failed to turn up for work, because he was sick.

Following the sacking the female boss of the salon accidentally sent a message to the employee he had just fired which said: “I am not going to keep [the hairdresser in question]. I don’t have a good feeling about this guy. He’s a dirty faggot…They’re all up to no good.”

The words used in French were “sale PD“, with PD being short for “pédé”, a derogatory term that normally translates as “faggot”.

The employee took his boss to the tribunal for unfair dismissal and claimed the text message clearly showed there was homophobic motive to the sacking.

The hairdressers said the employee was let go because he was “slow” and had “trouble fitting in”, refused to do certain tasks and “aimed to quickly get a management position”.

Despite the fact that in French the word “PD” is clearly viewed as being derogatory the tribunal decided it wasn’t a homophobic insult and therefore not an aggravating factor in the man’s dismissal.

But then came the tribunal’s bizarre reasoning.

“If we put it in the context of the field of hairdressing, the council considers that the term “faggot” used by a manager cannot be considered as a homophobic insult, because hair salons regularly employ gay people, notably in female hairdressers, and that poses no problem at all,” read the tribunal’s written judgement.

While ruling that the employer did not discriminate against the employee, the tribunal awarded him 5,000 euros ($5,700) for moral prejudice “because injurious words were used”.

The ruling was tweeted out this week and quickly prompted anger on social media in France.


“You are a hairdresser, you get called a faggot and that’s OK because hairdressers are often gay right. Thanks to the tribunal,” tweeted Mathieu Brancourt, a journalist who revealed the ruling.

Another tweeted: “So basically it’s OK to be homophobic if you work in an area with lots of homosexuals. Fantastic guys”.

Gilles Dehais president of SOS Homophobie told The Local: “It’s scandalous and of course we are outraged. But this is a reflection of the ordinary homophobia that is present in daily life in France and to which gay, lesbian and transsexual people are victims of.

The ruling “may worsen the homophobic climate, which is already bad,” said Clemence Zamora-Cruz, spokeswoman of the group Inter-LGBT.

She said discrimination against gays rarely gets a hearing because the victims “prefer to keep quiet”.

The decision was “clearly homophobic”, said Nicolas Noguier, who runs a shelter for victims of homophobia. “Condensed into three or four lines, it’s really all the insults that the young people we help are subjected to.”

The French labour minister Myrian El Khomri spoke out against the ruling on Friday morning calling it “outrageous ” and “shocking”.

France’s rights watchdog Le Défenseur des Droits, has become involved in the case and has confirmed the victim will appeal the ruling.

The Local


Our terrorism double standard: After Paris, let’s stop blaming Muslims and take a hard look at ourselves

Our terrorism double standard: After Paris, let's stop blaming Muslims and take a hard look at ourselves

An Indian child pays floral tribute at a sand sculpture created in remembrance of victims of Friday’s attacks in Paris, in Bhubaneswar, India.(Credit: AP)

We must mourn all victims. But until we look honestly at the violence we export, nothing will ever change

By: Ben Norton/

Any time there is an attack on civilians in the post-9/11 West, demagogues immediately blame it on Muslims. They frequently lack evidence, but depend on the blunt force of anti-Muslim bigotry to bolster their accusations.

Actual evidence, on the other hand, shows that less than two percent of terrorist attacks from 2009 to 2013 in the E.U. were religiously motivated. In 2013, just one percent of the 152 terrorist attacks were religious in nature; in 2012, less than three percent of the 219 terrorist attacks were inspired by religion.

The vast majority of terrorist attacks in these years were motivated by ethno-nationalism or separatism. In 2013, 55 percent of terrorist attacks were ethno-nationalist or separatist in nature; in 2012, more than three-quarters (76 percent) of terrorist attacks were inspired by ethno-nationalism or separatism.

These facts, nonetheless, have never stopped the prejudiced pundits from insisting otherwise.

On Friday the 13th of November, militants massacred at least 127 people in Paris in a series of heinous attacks.

There are many layers of hypocrisy in the public reaction to the tragedy that must be sorted through in order to understand the larger context in which these horrific attacks are situated — and, ultimately, to prevent such attacks from happening in the future.

Right-wing exploitation

As soon as the news of the attacks broke, even though there was no evidence and practically nothing was known about the attackers, a Who’s Who of right-wing pundits immediately latched on to the violence as an opportunity to demonize Muslims and refugees from Muslim-majority countries.

In a disgrace to the victims, a shout chorus of reactionary demagogues exploited the horrific attacks to distract from and even deny domestic problems. They flatly told Black Lives Matter activists fighting for basic civil and human rights, fast-food workers seeking liveable wages and union rights, and students challenging crippling debts that their problems are insignificant because they are not being held hostage at gunpoint.

More insidiously, when evidence began to suggest that extremists were responsible for the attacks, and when ISIS eventually claimed responsibility, the demagogues implied or even downright insisted that Islam — the religion of 1.6 billion people — was to blame, and that the predominately (although not entirely) Muslim refugees entering the West are only going to carry out more of such attacks.

Clampdown on Muslims and refugees

Every time Islamic extremists carry out an attack, the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are expected to collectively apologize; it has become a cold cliché at this point.

Who benefits from such clampdown on Muslims and refugees?

Two primary groups: One, Islamic extremist groups themselves, who use the clampdown as “evidence” that there is supposedly no room for Muslims in the secular West that has declared war on Islam; and two, Europe’s growing far-right, who will use the attacks as “evidence” that there is supposedly no room for Muslims in the secular West that should declare war on Islam.

Although enemies, both groups share a congruence of interests. The far-right wants Muslims and refugees from Muslim-majority countries (even if they are not Muslim) to leave because it sees them as innately violent terrorists. Islamic extremists want Muslim refugees to leave so they can be radicalized and join their caliphate.

More specifically, to name names, ISIS and al-Qaeda will benefit from the clampdown on Muslims and refugees, and Europe’s growing far-right movement will continue to recruit new members with anti-Muslim and anti-refugee propaganda.

ISIS has explicitly stated that its goal is to make extinct what it calls the “grayzone” — that is to say, Western acceptance of Muslims. The “endangerment” of the grayzone “began with the blessed operations of September 11th, as those operations manifested two camps before the world for mankind to choose between, a camp of Islam … and a camp of kufr — the crusader coalition,” wrote ISIS in its own publication.

An excerpt from ISIS' own publication (Credit: Iyad El-Baghdadi)

An excerpt from ISIS’ own publication (Credit: Iyad El-Baghdadi)

Demonstrating how right-wing and Islamic extremist logic intersect, ISIS actually favorably cited the black-and-white worldview shared ironically by both former President George W. Bush and his intractable foe, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. ISIS wrote: “As Shaykh Usamah Ibn Ladin said, ‘The world today is divided into two camps. Bush spoke the truth when he said, “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” Meaning, either you are with the crusade or you are with Islam.’”

By making ISIS go viral, we are only helping them accomplish their sadistic goals.

In the meantime, France’s extreme right-wing National Front party stands to gain in particular. The party — which was founded by a neo-Nazi and is now led by his estranged daughter Marine Le Pen — constantly rails against Muslims, whom it hypocritically characterizes as Nazi occupiers. In 2014, a Paris court ruled it was fair to call the National Front “fascist.”

Before the Paris attacks, Le Pen’s extreme-right movement was France’s second-largest party. Now it may become the first.

The massacres that are ignored

There are hundreds of terrorist attacks in Europe every year. The ones that immediately fill the headlines of every news outlet, however, are the ones carried out by Muslims — not the ones carried out by ethno-nationalists or far-right extremists, which happen to be much more frequent.

Yet it is not just right-wing pundits and the media that give much more attention to attacks like those in Paris; heads of state frequently do so as well. Minutes after the Paris attacks, Presidents Hollande and Obama addressed the world, publicly lamenting the tragedy. Secretary John Kerry condemned them as “heinous, evil, vile acts.”

Notable was the official silence surrounding another horrific terrorist attack that took place only the day before. Two ISIS suicide bombers killed at least 43 people and wounded more than 230 in attacks on a heavily Shia Muslim community in Beirut on November 12. President Obama did not address the world and condemn the bombings, which comprised the worst attack in Beirut in years.

In fact, the opposite happened; the victims of the ISIS attacks were characterized in the U.S. media as Hezbollah human shields and blamed for their own deaths based on the unfortunate coincidence of their geographical location. Some right-wing pundits even went so far as to justify the ISIS attacks because they were assumed to be aimed at Hezbollah.

Nor did the White House interrupt every news broadcast to publicly condemn the ISIS massacre in Turkey in October that left approximately 128 people dead and 500 injured at a peaceful rally for a pro-Kurdish political party.

More strikingly, where were the heads of state when the Western-backed, Saudi-led coalition bombed a Yemeni wedding on September 28, killing 131 civilians, including 80 women? That massacre didn’t go viral, and Obama and Hollande did not apologize, yet alone barely even acknowledge the tragedy.

Do French lives matter more than Lebanese, Turkish, Kurdish, and Yemeni ones? Were these not, too, “heinous, evil, vile acts”?

Oddly familiar

We have seen this all before; it should be oddly familiar. The reaction to the horrific January 2015 Paris attacks was equally predictable; the knee-jerk Islamophobia ignored the crucial context for the tragic attack — namely the fact that it was was the catastrophic U.S.-led war on Iraq and torture at Abu Ghraib, not Charlie Hebdo cartoons, that radicalized the shooters. Also ignored was the fact that the extremist attackers were sons of émigrés from Algeria, a country that for decades bled profusely under barbarous French colonialism, which only ended after an even bloodier war of independence in 1962 that left hundreds of thousands of Algerians dead.

After the January Paris attacks, leaders from around the world — including officials from Western-backed extremist theocratic tyrannies like Saudi Arabia — gathered in Paris to supposedly participate in a march that turned out to actually be a carefully orchestrated and cynical photo op.

And not only are Muslims collectively blamed for such attacks; they, too, collectively bear the brunt of the backlash.

In just six days after the January attacks, the National Observatory Against Islamophobia documented 60 incidents of Islamophobic attacks and threats in France. TellMAMA, a U.K.-based organization that monitors racist anti-Muslim attacks, also reported 50-60 threats.

Once again, mere days before the January Paris attacks, the global community largely glossed over another horrific tragedy: The slaughter of more than 2,000 Nigerians by Boko Haram. The African victims didn’t get a march; only the Western victims of Islamic extremism did.

Western culpability

A little-discussed yet crucial fact is that the vast, vast majority of the victims of Islamic extremism are themselves Muslim, and live in Muslim-majority countries. A 2012 U.S. National Counterterrorism Center report found that between 82 and 97 percent of the victims of religiously motivated terrorist attacks over the previous five years were Muslims.

The West frequently acts as though it is the principal victim, but the exact contrary is true.

Never interrogated is why exactly are so many refugees fleeing the Middle East and North Africa. It is not like millions of people want to leave their homes and families; they are fleeing violence and chaos — violence and chaos that happens to almost always be the result of Western military intervention.

Western countries, particularly the U.S., are directly responsible for the violence and destruction in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen, from which millions of refugees are fleeing:

  • The illegal U.S.-led invasion of Iraq led to the deaths of at least one million people, destabilized the entire region, and created extreme conditions in which militant groups like al-Qaeda spread like wildfire, eventually leading to the emergence of ISIS.
  • In Afghanistan, the ongoing U.S.-led war and occupation — which the Obama administration just prolonged for a second time — has led to approximately a quarter of a million deaths and has displaced millions of Afghans.
  • The disastrous U.S.-led NATO intervention in Libya destroyed the government, turning the country into a hotbed for extremism and allowing militant groups like ISIS to spread west into North Africa. Thousands of Libyans have been killed, and hundreds of thousands made refugees.
  • In Yemen, the U.S. and other Western nations are arming and backing the Saudi-led coalition that is raining down bombs, including banned cluster munitions, on civilian areas, pulverizing the poorest country in the Middle East. And, once again — the story should now be familiar — thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands have been displaced.

Syria is a bit more complicated. Many refugees in the country, which has been torn apart by almost five years of bitter war, are fleeing the brutal repression of the Assad government. Western countries and their allies, however, share some of the blame. Allies such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey have greatly inflamed the conflict bysupporting extremist groups like al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra.

And it should go without saying that millions of Syrian refugees are fleeing the very same terror at the hands of ISIS that the group allegedly unleashed upon Paris. By suppressing Syrian and Iraqi refugees fleeing the ruthlessly violent extremist group, France and other Western countries will only be further adding to the already shocking number of its victims.

Dislocating the blame

When the U.S. and its allies bomb weddings and hospitals in Yemen and Afghanistan, killing hundreds of civilians, “Americans” doesn’t trend globally on Twitter. Yet when Parisians are allegedly killed by Islamic extremists, “Muslims” does.

The imperialist West always try to dislocate the blame. It’s always the foreigner’s, the non-Westerner’s, the Other’s fault; it’s never the fault of the enlightened West.

Islam is the new scapegoat. Western imperial policies of ravaging entire nations, propping up repressive dictators, and supporting extremist groups are conveniently forgotten.

The West is incapable of addressing its own imperial violence. Instead, it points its blood-stained finger accusingly at the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims and tells them they are the inherently violent ones.

Unfortunately, tragedies like the one we see in Paris are daily events in much of the Middle East, no thanks to the policies of the governments of France, the U.S., the U.K., and more. The horrific and unjustifiable yet rare terrorist attacks we in the West experience are the quotidian reality endured by those living in the region our governments brutalize.

This does not mean we should not mourn the Paris attacks; they are abominable, and the victims should and must be mourned. But we should likewise ensure that the victims of our governments’ crimes are mourned as well.

If we truly believe that all lives are equally valuable, if we truly believe that French lives matter no more than any others, we must mourn all deaths equally.

The dangers of habit

We know the responses to attacks like these. Great danger lies in them continuing on the same way.

Governments are going to call for more Western military intervention in the Middle East, more bombs, and more guns. Hard-line right-wing Senator Ted Cruz immediately demanded airstrikes with more “tolerance for civilian casualties.” Naturally, the proposed “solution” to individual acts of terror is to ramp up campaigns of state terror.

At home, they will call for more fences, more police, and more surveillance. Immediately after the Paris attacks, France closed its borders. In the U.S., as soon as the attacks were reported, the NYPD began militarizing parts of New York City.

The hegemonic “solution” is always more militarization, both abroad and here at home. Yet it is in fact militarization that is the cause of the problem in the first place.

At the time of the atrocious 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda was a relatively small and isolated group. It was the U.S.-led war in and occupation of Iraq that created the conditions of extreme violence, desperation, and sectarianism in which al-Qaeda metastasized, spreading worldwide. The West, in its addiction to militarism, played into the hands of the extremists, and today we see the rotten fruit borne of that rotten addiction: ISIS is the Frankenstein’s monster of Western imperialism.

Moreover, Western countries’ propping up of their oil-rich allies in the Gulf, extremist theocratic monarchies like Saudi Arabia, is a principal factor in the spread of Sunni extremism. The Obama administration did more than $100 billion of arms deals with the Saudi monarchy in the past five years, and France has increasingly signed enormous military contracts with theocratic autocracies like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar.

If these are the strategies our governments continue to pursue, attacks like those in Paris will only be more frequent.

The far-right will continue to grow. Neo-fascism, the most dangerous development in the world today, will gain traction. People will radicalize.

The incidence of attacks inspired by ethno-nationalism or far-right extremism, already the leading cause of European and American terror, will increase even further.

The pundits will boost anti-Muslim bigotry and feed the anti-refugee fervor. In doing so, they will only make matters worse.

The Paris attacks, as horrific as they are, could be a moment to think critically about what our governments are doing both abroad and here at home. If we do not think critically, if we act capriciously, and violently, the wounds will only continue to fester. The bloodletting will ultimately accelerate.

In short, those who promote militarist policies and anti-Muslim and anti-refugee bigotries in response to the Paris attacks are only going to further propagate violence and hatred.

If the political cycle is not changed, the cycle of violence will continue.

You need to die in Paris to get here

IT IS still possible to be buried alongside such luminaries as Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison of The Doors in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris 20th – but you have to have either had a home in Paris or have died there.

However, it is not possible to reserve a place in France’s most famous graveyard said an official at the cemetery, but if you meet the criteria there are still plots and your family can make arrangements after you die.

Sited on a hill in the east of the city, the cemetery is named after François d’Aix, seigneur de La Chaise, the Jesuit confessor of King Louis XIV and who used to live on the site.

These days the list of famous “residents” there is an exhaustive roll-call of the great and the good, including Edith Piaf, Maria Callas, Honoré de Balzac, Chopin, Sarah Bernhardt and Marcel Proust.

However it is not only French celebrities who found their last resting place there – there are a million people buried in the graveyard and the vast majority are common Paris residents – however, among the most-visited graves are those of “Anglo-Saxons” with French links.

The grave of playwright Oscar Wilde is noted for being covered with graffiti messages and lipstick kisses by over-enthusiastic admirers. Wilde, who died in 1900, emigrated to France after his jail sentence for “gross indecency”. Calling himself Sebastian Melmoth (a mixture of Christian martyr Saint Sebastian and the devilish hero of a Gothic novel) he lived in a hotel in Saint-Germain-des-Près, now just called L’Hôtel.

The inscription on his monument, by sculptor Jacob Epstein, is a quote from Wilde’s poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol:

And alien tears will fill for him
Pity’s long-broken urn
For his mourners will be outcast men
And outcasts always mourn.

An angry visitor smashed the penis off its naked male figure soon after it was installed and in 2000 an artist held a ceremony where a silver prosthetic was attached.

The grave of US rock singer and poet Morrison was also a target for graffiti and there is now a security patrol at the cemetery to try to cut down on abuses. Morrison died in Paris, in 1971, aged 27. He was found in his bath in his rented flat. Mystery still surrounds his death, with theories including a heroin overdose or a respiratory illness (there was no autopsy because the
authorities said there was no evidence of “foul play”).

This has led some fans to claim his death was faked and he is living in obscurity somewhere. His modest grave bears a Greek inscription which means “True to his Own Spirit”.

Other graves include Sir Richard Wallace, an English art collector, whose most noted contribution to Paris was the donation of 50 cast-iron sculpted drinking fountains for the streets, which became a symbol of the city. Some can still be seen.

He also left art to found the Wallace Collection in London, which now includes Titians, Rembrandts and Franz Hals’ The Laughing Cavalier.

Another Briton, Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, is remembered for having won a victory against Napoleon at Acre, Israel, causing the emperor to remark: “That man made me miss my

Père-Lachaise cemetery was the scene of fierce fighting during the Communard uprising in 1871. In May after hand to hand fighting between the tombs, 147 of the last defenders of the Commune of Paris, an anarchist revolution, were shot along the Wall des Fédérés. The bodies
of 690 fallen comrades were also buried near the wall.

Père-Lachaise also contains memorials to the French people deported to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

When it opened in 1804 Parisians were reluctant to sign up and it was not until the the remains of the legendary medieval lovers Abélard and Héloïse, playwright Molière and poet La Fontaine were transferred there that people started to sign up.

In 1815 fewer than 2,000 tombs in the then 17-hectare enclosure had been taken up but after the bodies were transferred demand rose sharply. It has now been extended six times to its present 44 hectare size.

Père-Lachaise holds one million bodies in its 70,000 tombs and is the most visited graveyard in the world with two million visitors each year. It has a website with a clickable map of the locations of the most famous graves. English-language guided tours are done at weekends.

Many of the structures and tombs have been classified as official historical monuments, including
Bartholomé’s sculpture Monument to the Dead, the graves of Abélard and Héloïse, Molière and La Fontaine and Étienne-Hippolyte Godde’s mortuary and chapel and his entrance gate on Boulevard de Ménilmontant

Also buried in France…

Josephine Baker – The dancer and singer is buried in Monaco. She was the first American woman to get military honours at her Paris funeral, with a 21-gun salute for her services to the Resistance.

Writer Samuel Beckett – The Irish dramatist is buried with his wife Suzanne at Paris Montparnasse cemetery. Beckett asked that his gravestone be “any colour, so long as it’s grey”.

Actor Yul Brynner – The star of The King and I is buried in Luzé, Indre-et-Loire.

D.H. Lawrence – Novelist was buried at Vence, Alpes-Maritimes (his body was later exhumed and then cremated)

Margaret Kelly Leibovici – Miss Bluebell, the founder of the world-famous dance troupe at the Lido, rests in Montmartre cemetery, Paris.

Man Ray – American surrealist artist who spent most of his life in Paris is buried at Montparnasse.

Marie of Guise – Wife of Scotland’s King James V and mother of Mary Queen of Scots is buried in Reims Cathedral. Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI of England, rests in Angers Cathedral.

War poet John McCrae – Canadian surgeon best known for In Flanders Fields is buried in Wimereux military cemetery, near Boulogne.

Wilfred Owen – the poet and soldier famed for Dulce et Decorum Est and Anthem for Doomed Youth is buried in Ors (Nord). He died in the Battle of the Sambre a week before the First World War ended.

Sir Bertram Ramsay – the British admiral responsible for the Dunkirk evacuation and one of the key people behind the D-Day landings is buried in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines).

King Richard the Lionheart – is in several bits round France: his heart is in Rouen Cathedral, Normandy; his entrails at Château de Chalus Chabrol, Limousin, his brain at Charroux Abbey, Vienne; the rest of his remains are in Fontevraud Abbey, Anjou.

Actress Jean Seberg – Star of Jean-Luc Godard’s A Bout de Souffle, Paint Your Wagon and Airplane, the American actress is buried in the Montparnasse cemetery.

William Webb-Ellis – the man who is said to have invented rugby, is buried in Menton, Alpes-Maritimes

W.B. Yeates – the Irish poet was buried in Roquebrune on the Côte d’Azur, then his body was repatriated to Ireland after WW2.

Leonardo da Vinci – spent his last years at Amboise, Indre-et-Loire, and is buried there.

Rin Tin Tin – Hollywood canine star is buried in the Cimetière des Chiens in Asnières-sur-Seine. Saved from a bombed kennel by an American serviceman in France in the First World War, he was brought back after he died in 1932.

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