France: Official investigation launched into ‘#gaysmustdie’ tweets

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Prosecutors in France have launched an official investigation into a flurry of homophobic tweets sent using the hashtags #gaysmustdie, and #letsburngays.

The French branch of IDAHOT Committee (International Day Against Homophobia) lodge a complaint when tweets appeared on 10 and 11 August using the hashtags #LesGaysDoiventDispaîratreCar (#gaysmustdie), and #BrulonsLesGaysSurDu (#letsburngays).

French prosecutors have now opened a formal investigation into the tweets, sources revealed to the Local on Wednedsay.

In the complaint, IDAHOT wrote: “These illicit tweets on Twitter’s site characterise the offence of public incitement to discrimination, to hatred or national, racial or religious violence,

“Despite alerts, Twitter allowed a homophobic atmosphere to develop on the social network and gave no serious response [to the tweets].”

Responding, Government spokeswoman and Minister for Women’s Rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, also took to Twitter to condemn the tweets.

“I condemn homophobic tweets. Our work with Twitter and groups against homophobia, is essential,” she said.

Twitter has recently faced calls to add a “report abuse”, button, with a petition of tens of thousands calling for it to do more to crack down on such discrimination.

Speaking to the Local, Alexandre Marcel of IDAHOT said: “This is a completely blatant call for the death and murder of gay people. It is totally unacceptable,

“We support free expression, and we understand that there are some people who simply don’t like gay people, but this is a call for the extermination of the gay community,” he added.

“Twitter hasn’t deleted a single homophobic tweet, nor removed a single homophobic hashtag from its list of most popular trending terms.”

“Could you imagine being a 17 or 18-year-old gay person logging on to Twitter, which, remember, is most popular among young people, and seeing messages that call for you to be killed?,” he continued.

Despite no official statement from Twitter on the issue, Del Harvey, the company’s head of safety tweeted personally to agree with Vallaud-Belkacem: “We agree and will continue to work closely with the associations on this important issue.”

The microblogging site back in July agreed, following a court ruling, to hand over information regarding the true identities of posters of anti-gay and anti-semitic tweets.

In January, the Paris High Court ruled that Twitter must give details of users who posted offensive messages on the microblogging site, at the request of several anti-hate groups.

This came after the the French Government recently suggested that Twitter should be fighting against homophobic, anti-semitic and racist tweets that potentially break its laws on hate speech.