Belgian homosexual activists have brought charges against Mgr André-Mutien Léonard, the Roman-Catholic bishop of Namur, for homophobia, a criminal offence in Belgium according to the country’s 2003 Anti-Discrimination Act. In an interview last April in the Walloon weekly Télé Moustique, the bishop is said to have described homosexuals as “abnormal” people.
According to Michel Graindorge, the activists’ lawyer, the bishop intended to “stigmatize” homosexuals, whose “identity and dignity is debased from the moment that the bishop considers them to be abnormal.” Mr Graindorge warned for the dangers of such stigmatization, which he claims leads to “the fate the Nazis reserved for [homosexuals].” Homosexual activists claim that the Nazis sent homosexuals to extermination camps.
The homosexual activists also take offence at Mgr Léonard’s reference to Sigmund Freud, arguing that Freud did not consider homosexuality to be abnormal. The bishop says that he never described homosexual people as “abnormal people,” but was only referring to their sexual behaviour which deviates from the normal pattern. “One has to distinguish between the person and his behaviour,” he explained. However, according to the journalist who taped the interview, the bishop had been referring to the people rather than their behaviour.
Last January Christian Vanneste, a member of the French parliament (who has just been reelected), was convicted for homophobia by a French court. Mr Vanneste had said that “heterosexuality is morally superior to homosexuality” and that “homosexuality endangers the survival of mankind.”
Meanwhile Sweden is preparing a law, which is expected to be voted next January, to allow homosexual couples to marry in church.