In a significant moment for LGBTQ rights in Switzerland, a Lausanne court has handed down a 60-day jail sentence to French-Swiss polemicist Alain Bonnet, known as Alain Soral, for his offensive remarks directed at a journalist. Soral’s comments, which included derogatory statements like “fat lesbian,” were made against Catherine Macherel, a journalist working for Swiss newspapers Tribune de Geneve and 24 Heures. The court convicted Soral on charges of defamation, discrimination, and incitement to hatred. Along with the jail time, he was also ordered to pay substantial legal fees and fines.
Soral’s offensive tirade against Macherel occurred in a Facebook video two years ago, where he not only insulted her appearance but also belittled her work as a “queer activist.” The court’s verdict sends a strong message that homophobic hatred and discrimination will not be tolerated in Swiss society.
LGBTQ advocacy groups in Switzerland have hailed the court’s decision as a crucial moment for justice and the rights of LGBTQI individuals in the country. Murial Waeger, co-director of the lesbian activist group LOS, commented, “The conviction of Alain Soral is a strong signal that homophobic hatred cannot be tolerated in our society.”
In response to the conviction, Pascal Junod, a lawyer for Soral, derided it as a “crime of opinion” and accused the case of probing whether someone had “sinned against the dogmas of single thought.” Soral intends to appeal the verdict to the Swiss federal court and, if necessary, to the European Court of Human Rights.
This verdict marks a significant step in the implementation of a measure approved by Swiss voters in 2020, making it illegal to discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation. Soral, who has a history of legal troubles, including a 2019 jail sentence in France for denying the Holocaust, now faces the consequences of his homophobic remarks in Switzerland.
This case underscores Switzerland’s commitment to upholding the rights and dignity of LGBTQ individuals while sending a clear message that hate speech and discrimination will face legal consequences.