In a significant development for LGBTQ rights in Switzerland, the Lausanne court has sentenced French-Swiss polemicist Alain Bonnet, known as Alain Soral, to a 60-day jail term along with legal fees and fines for defamation, discrimination, and incitement to hatred. Soral had directed derogatory comments towards Catherine Macherel, a journalist for Swiss newspapers Tribune de Geneve and 24 Heures, referring to her as a “fat lesbian” and criticizing her work as a “queer activist.”
This court decision marks an important moment in Switzerland’s commitment to justice and LGBTQI rights. Murial Waeger, co-director of the lesbian activist group LOS, lauded the verdict, stating, “The conviction of Alain Soral is a strong signal that homophobic hatred cannot be tolerated in our society.” This ruling is seen as a reflection of Switzerland’s effort to uphold the measure passed by Swiss voters in 2020, making it illegal to discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation.
In response to the conviction, Pascal Junod, a lawyer for Soral, derisively labeled it a “crime of opinion” and accused the court of attempting to determine whether one had “sinned against the dogmas of single thought.” Soral intends to appeal the verdict, taking the case to the Swiss federal court and, if necessary, to the European Court of Human Rights.
It is worth noting that Alain Soral has a history of legal troubles related to hate speech. In 2019, he was sentenced to jail in France for Holocaust denial, a crime under French law. Switzerland’s recent ruling sends a clear message that expressions of homophobia and discrimination will not be tolerated within its borders, contributing to a more inclusive and respectful society.