As of this month Air France is resuming 3x weekly flights between Paris and Tehran. This comes after sanctions were lifted between Iran and the US/Europe, given that international inspectors have confirmed that Iran has allegedly dismantled their nuclear program.
This new route hasn’t come without some controversy, though. Last week I posted about how Air France’s unions requested that female flight attendants be allowed to opt out of the new flight, due to the requirement of women having to wear headscarves in public.
The argument on both sides basically boiled down to the following:
- Air France’s union argued they weren’t passing judgment on Iran’s policies, but rather that forcing staff to work these flights restricted their individual liberties
- Air France’s management argued that French law allows for the restriction of individual liberties if it’s justified by the nature of the task to be accomplished, which was the case here
Air France’s management quickly caved, though, making staffing on this new flight voluntary. When I wrote about that resolution, I commented the following:
While women will have the ability to opt out if they so choose, male staff (a significant number of which are openly gay), will be forced to work these flights instead. Of course this is all a slippery slope, but…
Well, it seems I wasn’t the only one to have that thought. There’s now a petition on change.org requesting that gay Air France crew not have to work the Paris to Tehran flight either.
Per The Telegraph:
One flight attendant, Laurent M, has launched a petition calling on the French carrier to give gay cabin crew members the right to refuse to fly to Tehran, the Iranian capital. The online appeal was addressed to the French Ministry of Transport as well as Air France CEO Frédéric Gagey, and has garnered more than 2,500 signatures.
“Sure, our sexuality isn’t written on our passports and it doesn’t change the way we work as a crew,” said the petition, entitled ‘Gay stewards from Air France don’t want to fly to the death penalty in Iran’. “But it is inconceivable to force someone to go to a country where his kind are condemned for who they are.”
He adds that minors can receive up to 74 lashes for an infringement of the law, and adults may be executed.
Some human rights groups claim that as many as 6,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran for crimes related to their sexual orientation since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
To me this is all a very interesting topic. I think it’s great Air France is allowing female crew to opt out of their Iran flights. Though if they’re going to allow that, it seems at least as reasonable to also allow gay crew to opt out of flying to a country with harsh laws against them.
It’s a slippery slope, no doubt. Because if that’s allowed, should gay crew also be allowed to opt out of flying to the dozens and dozens of countries in Africa and the Middle East (and elsewhere) where them being themselves is illegal?
I don’t know. Like I said, it’s all a slippery slope. I see where Air France is coming from regarding female crew, though is it fair for the line to be drawn there, and not with gay crew? And if gay crew deserve exceptions, where is the line drawn?
Interesting stuff, especially since France is one of the more progressive countries when it comes to LGBT rights…
What do you guys think?
(Tip of the hat to Ben Holz)