Belgian homosexual activists have brought charges against Bishop André-Mutien Léonard of Namur for homophobia.
Homophobia is a criminal offence in Belgium since the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Act of 2003.
In an April interview for the weekly Télé Moustique, the bishop is said to have described homosexuals as “abnormal” people.
According to Michel Graindorge, the lawyer for the homosexual activists, the bishop intended to “stigmatize” homosexuals, whose “identity and dignity is debased from the moment that the bishop considers them to be abnormal,” reported the Brussels Journal.
Graindorge warned about the dangers of stigmatization, such as “the fate the Nazis reserved for [homosexuals].”
The bishop said he never described homosexuals as “abnormal”. He said he was only referring to their sexual behavior, which deviates from the normal pattern.
“One has to distinguish between the person and his behavior,” he explained.
However, according to the Brussels Journal, the journalist who taped the interview claims that the bishop had been referring to the people rather than to their behavior.
This case is one of several that have begun to appear in Europe. This past January Christian Vanneste, a member of the French parliament, was convicted for homophobia by a French court for saying that, “heterosexuality is morally superior to homosexuality” and that “homosexuality endangers the survival of mankind.”