France appoints gay diplomat to UNESCO role after Vatican ‘snub’
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France on Wednesday abandoned its attempts to name a gay man as ambassador to the Holy See in the face of opposition from the Vatican, making him its representative to UNESCO instead.
The nomination of Laurent Stefanini, President François Hollande’s head of protocol, to the job at the UN’s Paris-based educational, cultural and scientific body ends a year of diplomatic wrangling.
Hollande proposed Stefanini for the Vatican job in January 2015 but when no confirmation from the Holy See was forthcoming, French and Italian media reported he had been snubbed due to his homosexuality.
French Catholic paper La Croix said last year the Vatican considered it a “provocation” that Stefanini had been put forward and some reports said it was the Vatican’s revenge for Hollande’s Socialist government legalising same-sex marriage in 2013.
Government spokesman Stéphane Le Foll said in April last year that Stefanini remained “France’s choice”.
A statement released after the meeting of the French cabinet on Wednesday did not give the new name put forward by Paris for the Vatican position.
Stefanini, 56, worked on Vatican affairs while working in a lower-ranking diplomatic role between 2001 and 2005. He became head of presidential protocol in 2010 under then- president Nicolas Sarkozy and retained the role when Hollande came to power two years later.