"Sure, our sexuality isn't written on our passports and it doesn't change the way we work as a crew but it is inconceivable to force someone to go to a country where his kind are condemned for who they are,” wrote employee ‘Laurent M’ in an open letter to the French government and to Air France CEO Frédéric Gagey.
The letter points out that homosexuality is illegal in the Middle Eastern country and comes with a penalty of 74 lashes for a minor while adults can even face death. A corresponding petition on Change.org had gained more than 2,000 signatures in just a few days.
The backlash comes just a week after female employees at the airline refused to fly the Paris to Tehran route because they didn’t want to be forced into wearing a veil and loose trousers – eventually, the airline accepted that the female workers could decline without facing punishment but no admittance exists for gay employees yet.
While the company conceded to the female employees’ requests, it also pointed out that the same headscarf rule was already in place when flying to certain destinations, such as Saudi Arabia – a country which also has the death penalty for anyone caught carrying out homosexual acts.
The airline suspended flights to Iran in 2008 but plans to resume service next week after international sanctions on the Islamic Republic were lifted.
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Gay flight attendants at a major international airline have rebelled over proposed flights to Iran, insisting they shouldn’t have to fly to a country where homosexuality is considered a crime punishable by death.