Recent question: Freedom of speech and blasphemy caused me to think about it and ask myself:

is there any limits/prohibits for mocking in France? Is it legal to criticize the LGBT community?

As we see, it is legal to mock religions, but what else?

  • 23
    "LGBT" is not an organisation; so there's no organization policy either which could be subject to criticism. Pretending otherwise is setting up a straw man, often for hate speech. There are multiple organizations (with various degrees of overlap) which have LGBT members. It could be valid to ask whether such an organization can legally be criticized for its policy. (Spoiler: yes)
    – MSalters
    Oct 29, 2020 at 11:28
  • 7
    How does one "criticize LGBT"? Oct 29, 2020 at 22:35
  • 2
    @MSalters "LGBT" refers to various conditions that manifest in particular actions. One can criticize those actions. Oct 29, 2020 at 22:40
  • 15
    Before you draw any conclusions, think about the difference between criticising people based on they say or do, and criticising people based on what they are. You might have an Eureka! moment if you do.
    – jcaron
    Oct 29, 2020 at 22:57
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    Such laws are subject to selective enforcement, depending on political expediency. Are you insulting someone the government wants to protect? Then it could lead to violence and you're clearly inciting violence. Are you openly threatening someone the government couldn't care less about? Here's your slap on the wrist, off you go.
    – EvilSnack
    Oct 30, 2020 at 1:44

2 Answers 2


Mockery is allowed; hate speech isn’t

While freedom of speech is guaranteed under French law it does have limits. Since 2004, these limits have applied to gender and sexuality.

Mockery is contemptuous or insulting speech; hate speech or vilification incites hatred, serious contempt or ridicule. The boundary between them must be established on a case-by-case basis including both content and context (“I’m going to get you” can be a serious threat but it can also be what a father says to his child when chasing them in the park) but in France, as in other liberal democracies, the benefit of the doubt goes to speech being considered lawful.

  • 8
    Could you please provide two sentences as an example? Oct 29, 2020 at 21:35
  • 8
    How is contemptuous speech allowed, but inciting contempt not? Isn't contemptuous speech advocating contempt? Oct 29, 2020 at 22:53
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    That seems to be a very vague, if not nonexistent line between yes and no.
    – Davor
    Oct 29, 2020 at 23:51
  • 11
    @Davor yes, that’s why we have judges and juries
    – Dale M
    Oct 30, 2020 at 2:14
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    @EricDuminil Think of the gay guy, Damian, from the movie "Mean Girls" in these examples. Mockery: "There's Damian, he's almost too gay to function" Hate speech: "There's Damian, he's a great example of everything God hates about [epithet]s" Oct 30, 2020 at 9:39

Mocking, or criticising homosexuality, or LGBT as a concept is OK. For example, former governement member Christine Boutin said "Homosexuality is an abomination", and it was considered OK (after appeals, she lost in lower courts, but eventually prevailed).

Mocking, or criticising LGBT people is not. For example, far right magazine "Minute" got a 7.000€ fine for a front page saying "AIDS: Despite risks, they will give you their blood".

Same goes for religion. Criticising a religion is OK, criticising folks practising this religion is not (caricatures vs. saying "muslims must choose between Islam and France")

  • 2
    That headline goes far beyond merely mocking or criticising, it's a blatant accusation of immoral and probably criminal behavior. Accusing someone of being a pedophile or bank robber is also not mere mockery.
    – barbecue
    Oct 31, 2020 at 6:46

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