• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

France investigates '#gays must die' tweets

The Local/AFP · 28 Aug 2013, 17:30

Published: 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.

Story continues below…

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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Hollande says Brexit won't change Channel migrant deal
The Calais Jungle. Photo: AFP

President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday that the Brexit vote won't change border agreements between France and Britain.

Frenchman sentenced to jail time for burying dog alive
Photo: Pedro Dinis/Facebook

A man who buried his disabled dog alive, sparking social media fury in France, has been handed a jail sentence.

Le Thought du Jour
Post-Brexit: Could it benefit France to see the UK suffer?
Will Hollande benefit from the mess left behind by Cameron. Photo: AFP

The referendum result may have boosted Marine Le Pen and the growing anti-EU movement in France, but what has happened since may have taken the wind out their sails.

France 'probes new death threats' against Charlie Hebdo

A special French police unit has launched investigations after Charlie Hebdo magazine was subject to new death threats, according to reports in France.

Paris commuters face summer of transport headaches
Photo: AFP

Here are the train lines to avoid this summer if you're in Paris.

What's on in France: Eleven great things to do in July
Check out Provence's Lavender festivals in July. Photo: Ming-Yen Hsu/Flickr

We reckon July is by far the best month to be in France. Here's why.

Brexit
France wants Paris to profit from London's losses
Photo: AFP

Paris must take London's place as Europe's financial powerhouse once Brexit happens, a French minister says.

French foie gras industry warns of Christmas shortages
Photo: AFP

The foie gras industry in France is struggling to digest the consequences of the bird flu scare in its heartland.

Paris to honour Ireland's two sets of 'wonderful' fans
Photo: AFP

Fans of Ireland's "Boys in Green" and Northern Ireland's Green and White Army are to be given a special medal for bringing some joy to Euro 2016.

€5 to the coast? Ouibus rolls out new summer lines
Photo: Ouibus

Fancy heading to the coast for just €5 this summer?

Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
New app aims to rid Paris pavements of dog poo
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
No more plastic bags! See what changes in France from July 2016
National
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
National
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
National
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
National
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
2,762
jobs available