LGBT+ rights groups have filed a lawsuit against far-right French presidential candidate Éric Zemmour who say he denied gay Holocaust victims.
Zemmour, who is Jewish, is being sued by six LGBT+ organisations in the country: Inter-LGBT, SOS Homophobie, Stop Homophobie, Adheos, Quazar and Mousse.
The lawsuit stems from Zemmour’s latest book La France n’a pas dit son denier mot (“France has not said its final word”). The complaint highlights that a portion of the book claimed that the deportation of gay people in France due to their sexual orientation is a “legend”, NPR reported.
The lawsuit is the first time legal claims have been filed against an individual for denying that queer people were rounded up and deported during France’s occupation in the Second World War, according to a statement by the groups’ attorney Etienne Deshoulières.
The groups said the case against Zemmour is an “opportunity for LGBT+associations and historians” to form a front against the “denial of violence committed against homosexuals”.
“Éric Zemmour falsified history to justify his homophobic positions,” the statement continued. “He will have to answer for it before the French courts.”
However, representatives for Zemmour told France 24 that he was merely presenting another politician’s ideas, arguing “it is not Zemmour’s words that are cited in the book”. They described the lawsuit as an attempt to smear the far-right presidential candidate ahead of the first round of voting in the presidential election on 10 April.
According to the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 men who were accused of homosexuality were deported to concentration camps. The UK-based charity reported that “most died in the camps”, “many were castrated” and some were “subjected to gruesome medical experiments”.
At least 500 men accused of homosexuality were arrested in France during the country’s occupation in World War II, according to academic research cited in the LGBT+ groups’ lawsuit. The research found that at least 200 men were deported during the German occupation.
This is not the first time that Éric Zemmour has been taken to court.
Zemmour has been convicted two times for hate speech and is appealing a third, the Guardian reported. The most recent conviction against him came in January after he said that child migrants were “thieves, killers” and “rapists”, adding “we should send them back”.
He has denied he is racist.
Zemmour was found guilty of copyright infringement after he used unauthorised film clips and newsreels in a campaign video.