French politicians from across the divide have slammed Christian Vanneste, a member of parliament from President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party, over comments he made denying France deported gays during the occupation
French politicians from both sides of the spectrum condemned MP Christian Vanneste on Wednesday, following comments he made denying France had deported gays during World War II.
A member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party, Vanneste represents France’s northern regions in parliament. In a video interview posted on the French website LibertéPolitique.com, Vanneste harkened back to World War II while answering a question on family and homosexuality in France.
“There is the famous legend of homosexuals being deported during the Second World War”, Vanneste said. “Let’s be clear about that. Obviously, Himmler had a personal score to settle with homosexuals. In Germany, homosexuals were persecuted and deported…There were no [deportations] elsewhere. Other than the three annexed regions, homosexuals were not deported from France”.
Vanneste made a number of other homophobic comments during the interview, even going so far as to label many gays “narcissists”.
A spokesperson for socialist presidential candidate François Hollande issued a scathing statement deeming Vanneste’s diatribe as “not only homophobic, but also as denying the Holocaust”. Holocaust denial can be a very serious criminal charge in France, punishable by prison time.
Even the MP’s own party scrambled to distance themselves from his comments.
“He should be immediately kicked out of the UMP”, tweeted France’s junior minister of housing and UMP member, Benoist Apparu.
Fellow parliamentarian and the party’s only openly gay member Franck Riester also slammed Vanneste’s discourse, labeling it as “undignified”, and calling for “strong sanctions” against him.
In response to widespread outrage, the UMP has said it will likely bar Vanneste from the party and remove him as a candidate in the country’s upcoming legislative elections in June.
Despite the whirlwind of criticism, Vanneste has stuck by his remarks.
“I have nothing to take back, I have said nothing reproachable. I think the whole thing is stupid”, Vanneste told French daily Le Monde. “If I am wrong [about the facts], then I will make amends, no problem”.
Renowned French lawyer and Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld has supported Vanneste’s claims, saying “I have never seen a document declaring the deportation of homosexuals in France”, adding that while gays were surely deported, it was not specifically because of their sexual orientation.
It is the second time in little more than a week that France’s shameful past under the occupation has been resurrected on the political scene. On February 7, Serge Letchimy, a Member of Parliament for French Caribbean territory Martinique, accused Interior Minister Claude Guéant of flirting with Nazi ideology after he declared that “not all civilisation are equal”.
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