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Swiss LGBTQ groups praise jail sentence for commentator who called journalist a ‘fat lesbian’

Writer and commentator Alain Soral lashed out at journalist Catherine Macherel in a Facebook video two years ago, calling her a “fat lesbian” who was "unhinged."
French-Swiss far-right writer Alain Soral, left, arrives at the courthouse for his appeal trial for homophobia against a journalist, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Wednesday, September 27, 2023. The court ruled that Swiss-French essayist Alain Soral must spend 60-day in prison over a case of discrimination, defamation and incitation to hatred for deriding a newspaper journalist as a “fat lesbian.”
French-Swiss far-right writer Alain Soral in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Wednesday.Laurent Gillieron / Keystone via AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

GENEVA — LGBTQ groups hailed the 60-day jail sentence a court in Switzerland gave to a writer and commentator for deriding a journalist as a “fat lesbian,” among other critical remarks.

The Lausanne court sentenced French-Swiss polemicist Alain Bonnet, who goes by Alain Soral, for the crimes of defamation, discrimination and incitement to hatred on Monday. He was ordered to pay legal fees and fines totaling thousands of Swiss francs (dollars) in addition to the time behind bars.

Soral lashed out at Catherine Macherel, a journalist for Swiss newspapers Tribune de Geneve and 24 Heures, in a Facebook video two years ago. He called her a “fat lesbian” and said Macherel’s work as a “queer activist” meant she was “unhinged,” according to Swiss public broadcaster RTS.

“This court decision is an important moment for justice and rights of LGBTQI people in Switzerland,” Murial Waeger, co-director of the lesbian activist group LOS, said in a statement. “The conviction of Alain Soral is a strong signal that homophobic hatred cannot be tolerated in our society.”

In an email Tuesday to The Associated Press, Pascal Junod, a lawyer for Soral, mockingly blasted the conviction for a “crime of opinion” and said the case aimed to probe whether a person had “sinned against the dogmas of single thought.” Soral will appeal to Swiss federal court and “if necessary” to the European Court of Human Rights, the lawyer wrote.

Waeger said the verdict represented a milestone in the application of a measure approved by Swiss voters in 2020 that made it illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation.

Soral was convicted repeatedly in France and sentenced to jail time in 2019 for denying the Holocaust, which is a crime in France.

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