• France's news in English
Why gay Air France crew cannot skip flights to Iran
Photo: Jonathan Gross/Flickr

Why gay Air France crew cannot skip flights to Iran

The Local · 13 Apr 2016, 12:21

Published: 13 Apr 2016 12:21 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The creation of a petition calling for gay Air France stewards to be allowed to refuse to work on future flights between Paris and Tehran, prompted headlines around the world on Tuesday.

"It is inconceivable to force someone to go to a country where his kind are condemned for who they are," read the petition on the site Change.org.

It came just days after Air France announced it would allow female cabin crew members who did not want to wear the veil in Tehran to opt out of working on the new Iran route without fear of being punished.

While the petition may have garnered thousands of signatures of support, a gay Air France steward, who is the head of the airline’s LGBT union, has told The Local the idea of not working on flights to Iran is ridiculous.

Sébastien Gidon, president of the union Personn’Ailes, said gay stewards should be expected to fly to Tehran, even though the country has the death penalty for homosexuals caught in the act.

“We cannot create lists of personnel that includes information on their sexual orientation,” he told The Local.

“It is not the same issue as for the female staff, who don’t want to fly because they don’t want to wear the veil,” said Gidon. “We know they are women, but that’s not the same for gay people. Their sexual orientation needs to remain a secret and not be written on a list.”

Gidon says it’s hypocritical for gay stewards to think they can opt out of Tehran flights only, given that Iran is not the only country in the world where the rights of homosexuals are pretty much non-existent.

“If they took that stance, there would be around 20 other countries where they shouldn’t fly to, including Saudi Arabia and even international hubs like Singapore,” he said.

“They can’t just say 'I am not going to Iran'.”

According to his union’s estimates, around 40 percent of Air France cabin crew and pilots are men, without around 20 percent of those being gay.

Gidon says that while they are shocked and saddened by the horrendous conditions for gay people in Iran, air stewards should understand the moral dilemmas and restrictions that come with the job.

“When you apply for the job, you know you are going to go to places like Saudi Arabia and other countries where homosexuals are punished.

“There is obviously a fear that the cabin crew may get into trouble, but we say to them: ‘Do you really think you are going to walk around hand in hand with a boyfriend or kiss them on the streets of Tehran? Of course not.'

Story continues below…

“We understand their worries and we will help them overcome them,” he said.

Gidon says that sometimes, as is the case for many jobs, staff just have to accept the situation they are in and keep their opinions hidden.

“We all have personal opinions. When you see women hidden behind a veil in Saudi Arabia it makes you feel bad. It’s hard to see. But you can’t always express your opinions - or if you want to, then it’s time to change jobs.”

He says many gay workers of Air France were angered by the appearance of the petition this week and believe it may have done damage to their image.

“People already have the image that French people complain all the time and this petition makes it look like the gay air stewards were complaining about having to go to a certain country. But it’s not true."

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France’s 'Jungle' children arrive in UK
Authorities will start to clear the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp on Monday. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP file picture

The first group of children from the French "Jungle" migrant camp with no connection to Britain have arrived in the country, the Home Office said Sunday, ahead of the camp's planned demolition.

French FM calls for end to Aleppo 'massacre'
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault says the international community cannot ‘come to a negotiation under the bombs’. Photo: Dominick Reuter / AFP file picture

France's foreign minister urged the international community to "do everything" to end the "massacre" in the Syrian city of Aleppo on Sunday after fighting resumed following a 72-hour truce declared by Damascus ally Russia.

French cheer police, reviving Charlie spirit
French police officers on Saturday demonstrated for the fifth night in a row to protest mounting attacks on officers. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

Angry French police have taken to the streets for five nights in a row -- and Parisians have started to cheer them on, reviving scenes last seen following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015.

Scarlett Johansson turns popcorn girl in Paris
US actress Scarlett Johansson greets customers at the Yummy Pop gourmet popcorn shop in the Marais district of Paris. Photo: Benjamin Cremel / AFP

Hollywood superstar Scarlett Johansson swapped the red carpet for a turn behind the counter at her new popcorn shop in Paris on Saturday.

US couple donates huge art collection to Paris
Marlene (centre) and Spencer (right) are donating their collection ‘for the benefit of art lovers’. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

A Texan couple who discovered their love for art during a trip to Paris in the 1970s are to donate the multi-million dollar collection they have amassed since to the French capital.

France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available