• France edition
 
Twitter
France investigates '#gays must die' tweets
Twitter has faced a barrage of complaints after a spate of homophobic tweets and hashtags in French earlier in August. A French court has opened a probe, it emerged on August 28th. Photo: westm/Flickr

France investigates '#gays must die' tweets

Published: 28 Aug 2013 17:30 GMT+02:00
Updated: 28 Aug 2013 17:30 GMT+02:00

The French branch of the IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia) Committee lodged a complaint earlier this month when tweets appeared on August 10th and 11th with the hashtags #gaysmustdie  (#LesGaysDoiventDispaîratreCar”) and #letsburngays ( #BrulonsLesGaysSurDu).

"These illicit tweets on Twitter's site characterise the offence of public incitement to discrimination, to hatred or national, racial or religious violence," the complaint read.

"Despite alerts, Twitter allowed a homophobic atmosphere to develop on the social network and gave no serious response" to the tweets, the group said.

For her part, official government spokeswoman and Minister for Women’s Rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem took to Twitter herself to denounce the trend.

“I condemn homophobic tweets. Our work with Twitter and groups against homophobia, is essential,” she said.

Je condamne les tweets homophobes. Notre travail avec Twitter et avec les associations contre l'homophobie est essentiel.

— Najat Belkacem (@najatvb) August 10, 2013

Twitter has faced calls to do more to prevent abuse, with tens of thousands of people so far signing an online petition calling for it to add a "report abuse" button to tweets.

“This is a completely blatant call for the death and murder of gay people. It is totally unacceptable,” Alexandre Marcel from IDAHO told The Local at the time.

“We support free expression, and we understand that there are some people who simply don’t like gay people, but this is a call for the extermination of the gay community,” he added.

“Twitter hasn’t deleted a single homophobic tweet, nor removed a single homophobic hashtag from its list of most popular trending terms.”

“Could you imagine being a 17 or 18-year-old gay person logging on to Twitter, which, remember, is most popular among young people, and seeing messages that call for you to be killed?," Marcel added.   

Despite inquiries by The Local, Twitter has so far refused to offer an official statement on either the complaint by IDAHO France or the issue of anti-gay hate speech in general.

The company's head of safety, Del Harvey (@delbius), responded in a merely personal capacity to Minister Belkacem's tweet to, saying: "We agree and will continue to work closely with the associations on this important issue."

A Twitter spokeswoman, however, refused to clarify what concrete actions the company was considering taking as part of that work.

In July, The Local reported how the US website was forced by a French court’s ruling to hand over information identifying Twitter users who had published anti-Semitic comments, including under the term #UnBonJuif (A good Jew).

Speaking after the court’s decision in January, lawyer Philippe Schmidt told The Local that remarks made on Twitter should be treated the same as if they were made in any public forum.

“Having freedom of speech does not mean you have a right to say what you want and a right to hide behind your anonymity.  People on Twitter do not need to be anonymous. They should not have special treatment. It should be the same as if they said it on the street,” he said.

Legal sources close to the case told AFP on Wednesday the official probe into the homophobic tweets was opened on August 14th.

Don't want to miss a story about France? - Then join The Local France on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local/AFP (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
IMF board expresses confidence in Lagarde
Christine Lagarde, who revealed she had been charged on Wednesday after being questioned as part of a corruption investigation. Photo: AFP

IMF board expresses confidence in Lagarde

The board of the International Monetary Fund has reiterated its support for Managing Director Christine Lagarde, after a French court placed her under formal investigation in a graft scandal. READ  

Top 10 tips for dealing with your French in-laws
Meeting your French in-laws doesn't have to be scary. Photo: AFP

Top 10 tips for dealing with your French in-laws

Even back home meeting the in-laws for the first time is scary, but as a foreigner in France it's doubly stressful. So here's ten tips from the Comme une Française blog to help you survive and even thrive with your new family. READ  

How France compares to Europe:  Unemployment
How does France compare to its neighbours when it comes to unemployment.Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

How France compares to Europe: Unemployment

The jobless total in France hit a new record high this month with 3.424 million people out of work. Is it only in France that records are being broken? The Local takes a look at why the numbers are more positive in at least some of France's neighbours. READ  

Frenchman flips out over reclined seat on US flight
A Frenchman freaked out on a US plane over a reclined seat and is in big trouble. Photo: Doug/Flickr

Frenchman flips out over reclined seat on US flight

A Parisian man faces jail after losing his cool on a France-bound flight from the US over a passenger who reclined his seat just a bit too far. His outburst comes on the heels of the now infamous “Knee Defender” melee aboard another American plane. READ  

French police in race to find sick British boy
Ashya King, who police in France are desperately trying to track down. Photo: YouTube/Naveed King

French police in race to find sick British boy

Police in France and Britain faced a race against time on Friday in their hunt to find a five-year-old boy with a brain tumour who officials in France believe was "kidnapped" from a UK hospital by his family. READ  

French women's safety fears 'due to inequality'
A third of French women say they afraid to walk in their neighbourhood. Photo: Takato Marul/Flickr

French women's safety fears 'due to inequality'

Recent studies suggest women in France do not feel safe walking the streets of their neighbourhoods and many are afraid of walking around Paris at night. Some argue that gender inequality in the country is partly to blame. READ  

Feature - Wingsuit flying
Thrill-seekers risking life and limb in French Alps
Wingsuit flying has taken off in France despite dangers. Photo: Philippe Desmazes/AFP

Thrill-seekers risking life and limb in French Alps

A mountain in the French Alps has become a hot spot for the high-risk and often deadly extreme sport of wingsuit flying. And the seemingly hairbrained alpine activity where "there is no margin for error" attracts a lot of "dangerous egos". READ  

British killer escapes from hospital in France
French police have launched a manhunt for an escaped British killer. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

British killer escapes from hospital in France

A mentally ill British man is on the run in France after escaping from a psychiatric hospital, where he was forcibly committed after beating a man to death with a four-kilo weight. READ  

Does France really suffer from a brain drain?
France may not be suffering from a brain drain after all, but it's not as attractive as the UK or Germany. Photo: Leaving.

Does France really suffer from a brain drain?

The latest European Union figures cast a bit of doubt on worries the moribund French economy is prompting a mass brain drain. However the stats do suggest France is far less attractive than the UK and Germany when it comes to certain professions. READ  

French cities struggle with bedbug infestations
Bed bugs are biting in France. Photo: Shutterstock

French cities struggle with bedbug infestations

The infestation of French cities by bed bugs is worse than ever before with hygiene services overwhelmed, according to reports. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
The French words you can't translate literally
National
Ten things you need to know about France's economics whizzkid
International
VIDEO: Watch the top five street scams to avoid in Paris
Politics
Take a look at the bulging to-do list that awaits France's new government
Politics
Six questions for France after Hollande ousts rebels
International
Choosing schools in France: Do you go international or French?
Gallery
From kissing to bad-mouthing: Ten ways expats in France drive you mad
Culture
Ten things you need to know about the Liberation of Paris:
Travel
Watch this impressive time lapse video and you'll want to move to Paris
National
Veiled Muslim woman on a French beach prompts politician's angry rant
Travel
Forget Paris and Provence where are the least touristy areas of France?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The battle to liberate Paris from the Nazis
National
What France means to you in just one tweet
National
15 French 'false friends' you need to watch out for
International
12 reasons to invest in Paris and seven not to
National
French hamlet 'Death to Jews' mulls name change
National
French tourist caught in Pompeii brothel romp
International
'Forget the Anglo-media's image of France, the reality is much different'
Culture
VIDEO: Francophile Robin Williams enjoyed poking fun at the French
Travel
Six reasons why France is the world's top tourist destination
International
Remembering the 'forgotten campaign' in the liberation of France
Gallery
VIDEO: French bucket list - The 12 best things to do in France
International
Do three French cities deserve to be in top 10 "World 's Most Unfriendly"?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se