France: Anti-gay Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim quits over plagiarism row

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

France’s Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim, who has written essays against equal marriage, has resigned in a plagiarism row.

Rabbi Bernheim had been under pressure to quit after he admitted to several counts of plagiarism, and misleading the public on his academic qualifications.

A staunch critic of marriage equality, in an essay published last October, Rabbi Bernheim claimed gay rights supporters “will use gay marriage as a Trojan horse” in a campaign to “deny sexual identity and erase sexual differences” and “undermine the heterosexual fundamentals of our society.”

Pope Benedict XVI praised and quoted Rabbi Bernheim’s essay in December, saying he found it “profoundly moving”.

However, it subsequently emerged the essay had been plagiarised.

Initially refusing to resign, Rabbi Bernheim had denied all wrongdoing, but on Thursday it was announced he had stepped down.

Members of the Central Israeli Consistory of France had been meeting in an emergency session in Paris.

“He recognised his faults, apologised and gave explanations,” Sammy Ghoslan, the consistory’s vice-president told AFP.

Bernheim’s resignation as grand rabbi was “a solution that brings more serenity. We all agreed,” he said.

Earlier this week, the French Senate approved the crucial first article of a bill granting same-sex couples the right to marry.

Despite the victory, LGBT campaigners believe homophobia is on the rise in France.

Around 5,000 gay rights supporters held an anti-homophobia protest in Paris on Wednesday.