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Six LGBTQ advocacy groups are suing French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, saying his adherence to the claim that gay people were not arrested and deported during the Nazi occupation of France during World War II amounts to denial of the Holocaust.
This is the first time such a lawsuit has been brought against someone for alleging that French homosexuals were not deported during the war, according to lawyer Etienne Deshoulières, including the law firm filed a complaint on behalf of six organizations: Inter-LGBT, SOS Homophobia, Stop Homophobia, Adheos, Quazar and Mousse.
Tens of thousands of homosexuals were arrested or deported in connection with the Holocaust, according to the British agency Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. In France, at least 500 men have been arrested, and more than 180 have been deported, according to academic research cited by the lawsuit against Zemmour.
So who is Eric Zemmour?
Zemmour is a TV pundit and right-wing author who is now battling Marine Le Pen to become France’s top far-right voter in next month’s presidential election. He founded his own party, Reconquete! (“Reconquest!”). Polls currently show both candidates trailing French President Emmanuel Macron.
Zemmour, who is Jewish, has been found guilty of using hate speech three times in the past decade, following hardline comments on immigration and Islam. The final verdict against him came in Januaryfor saying that unaccompanied migrant children were “thieves, killers, they are rapists. That’s all they are. We should send them back”.
The lawsuit against Zemmour cites his latest book, France has not said its last word (“France has not said its last word”), published last year.
The lawsuit points to part of the book stating that the deportation of homosexuals to France because of their sexual orientation is a “legend”, or a myth. In response, Zemmour’s camp said it was merely presenting another politician’s ideas, reports France 24 — who adds that Zemmour also agrees with the idea of the text.
Homosexuals were one of the first targets of the Nazis
The repression of gays and lesbians was one of the first objectives of Nazi Germany, which called homosexuals “socially aberrant”. As the American Holocaust Memorial Museum says, “Shortly after taking office on January 30, 1933, Hitler banned all gay and lesbian organizations.”
In occupied France, the museum adds, there are documented cases of French police handing over their files naming homosexuals to the Gestapo. Once incarcerated, prisoners were forced to wear pink triangles on their clothes.
Researchers warn that the persecution of homosexuality during the Holocaust was likely underreported for a simple reason: After the Allies took control of Germany, they did not revoke the Nazis’ strict revisions to a part of German law called paragraph 175 dealing with homosexuality. – which was invoked in the arrest of thousands of men.
“Under the Allied occupation, some homosexuals were forced to serve their prison sentences, regardless of the time spent in concentration camps,” the US Holocaust Memorial Museum said. States. “Homosexuals were specifically denied compensation as victims of National Socialism.”
For Zemmour, this is the last in a series of trials
The new case against Zemmour accuses him of tampering with history. In 1995, President Jacques Chirac publicly acknowledged France’s complicity in helping the German occupiers deport France’s Jews to death camps. His sentiment was echoed by other presidents, and it was backed by the French courts.
Another ongoing case also accuses Zemmour of denying crimes against humanity during World War II. The case, which is still pending appeal, centers on Zemmour’s controversial claims that while the Vichy French government colluded with the Nazis to deport Jewish migrants from France, it also worked to save the Jews who were French citizens.
Zemmour said his comments were protected by the right to freedom of expressionattributing the trials and judgments against him to ideologues.
According to the French electoral system, the field of presidential candidates will be reduced to two on April 10, during the first round of voting. A second round will take place on April 24 – and polls are currently projecting that Macron will likely face Le Pen, whom he beat in 2017.