Anti-gay vandals deface plaque honouring last men burnt to death for homosexuality in Paris

A plaque honouring the last two men sentenced to death for homosexuality in France was defaced by anonymous vandals.

The Paris memorial was covered in dark paint and papers suggesting that only straight men are fit for the purpose of procreation, an act mayor Anne Hidalgo condemned as “a shameful display of homophobia” on Monday.

This is the second time in a few months the plaque was subject to homophobic attacks—in May, vandals burnt a bouquet of flowers left on the spot to commemorate the international day against homophobia and transphobia (May 17).

The plaque was unveiled in October 2014 (Public domain)

Mayor Hidalgo unveiled the plaque in 2014 in honour of Bruno Lenoir, a cobbler in his 20s, and Jean Diot, a 40-year-old servant, who were arrested in the spot marked by the memorial stone on January 4, 1750, for being homosexuals. They were sentenced to death and burnt alive on July 6 that year—marking the last execution for homosexuality in the country.

Hidalgo shared a picture of the vandalised plaque on Twitter, saying the homophobic act was “shocked” her.

“I am shocked by this new shameful display of homophobia! This plaque honours Bruno Lenoir and Jean Diot, the last men sentenced to death for homosexuality. This act only serves to strengthen our determination to fight against all discrimination,” she wrote, ending her tweet with the hashtag #LoveWins.

The damaging of the plaque took place just as the 10th edition of the Gay Games 2018 kicked off in the French capital, attracting more than 10,000 athletes representing 91 different countries, including 20 where homosexuality remains illegal.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo arrives on stage to deliver a speech during the inauguration of the sport village of the 2018 Gay Games on August 4, 2018 (Lucas Barioulet/AFP/Getty)

The plaque isn’t the only LGBT+ symbol in Paris that was recently subject to homophobic acts. In June, a rainbow crossing painted in occasion of the Pride march in the heart of the LGBT+ neighbourhood Le Marais was defaced twice in the same week by vandals who covered it with paint and scrawled homophobic messages, including “LGBT get out of France” and “LGBT dictatorship.”

In response, Mayor Hildalgo decided to make that crossing permanent, and stated that more Pride-themed crossings will be added around the city.

According to French LGBT+ rights charity SOS Homophobie‘s annual report, acts of homophobia in the country are on the rise, with the number of physical attacks due to anti-gay sentiment in the country jumping by 15 percent from 2016 to 2017.