A member of France's ruling party has been fined almost $4,000 for comments opposing homosexuality, under the country's hate speech law.
Christian Vanneste was fined by a court in Douai, in northern France, and charged an additional $2,000 in court fees.
The case stemmed from comments Vanneste made in 2004, when the mayor of a small southwestern community performed a homosexual "marriage", later declared illegal. Vanneste said homosexuality was "inferior" to heterosexuality and said the practice would be "dangerous for humanity if it was pushed to the limit."
Three homosexual and lesbian activist groups filed suit against Vanneste under the law criminalizing the incitement of hatred against minorities — homosexuality had recently been included under that law.
The case marks the first instance where the law has been used to bring charges against a member of Parliament, after it was adapted two years ago to prohibit speech against homosexuality.
The introduction of "hate speech" laws in France and Britain symbolize the dismantling of democracy that is rapidly underway in Europe, a former Soviet dissident and key witness against the Soviet Communist Party warned last fall in Brussels.
Comparing the ideologically-driven policies of the European Union with the record of Communist Russia, Vladimir Bukovsky said the EU's enforcement of political correctness was a symbol of the Union's slide toward a similar oppressive regime.
"The Soviet Union used to be a state run by ideology. Today's ideology of the European Union is social-democratic, statist, and a big part of it is also political correctness," Mr. Bukovsky said in an interview with Paul Belien for the Brussels Journal. "I watch very carefully how political correctness spreads and becomes an oppressive ideology… Look at this persecution of people like the Swedish pastor who was persecuted for several months because he said that the Bible does not approve homosexuality."
While he acknowledged that a significant gulf still separated EU policy enforcement from the oppressive control of the Soviet regime, Mr. Bukovsky warned that European countries are nonetheless under enormous pressure to conform to EU ideology.
Vanneste said he will appeal the ruling to the European Court of Human Rights.
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