Bishop Marc Aillet of Bayona, France, has criticized recent charges against a 23-year-old man detained for protesting the country’s new law allowing homosexual unions.
Nicolas Bernard was detained on June 16 when police cracked down on demonstrators protesting the new law at the Champs-Elysees. The law was passed by France’s Socialist government despite overwhelming opposition.
Bernard took refuge in a nearby restaurant as police moved through the area, but he was forcibly detained and accused of resisting arrest and producing a false ID. He has been sentenced to two months in jail.
“The charges seem surreal and the punishment disproportionate in relation to the acts,” Bishop Aillet said in a statement responding to reports that Bernard is being held in isolation and not allowed to speak to his family members.
Bernard is one of the founders of the “Veilleurs,” a peaceful movement that holds demonstrations in which poems and songs are sung and candles are lit in defense of marriage and the family. He is from Angers and studies Political Science, History and Engineering.
After his detention, the movement “Manif pour Tous,” which has organized several demonstrations against France’s law allowing homosexual unions, issued an alert calling for the immediate release of Bernard. Some 60,000 have already signed the petition.
However, Bernard is not the only one who was detained, as an estimated 150 demonstrators against the law have been arrested in recent weeks.
In his statement, Bishop Aillet said that what happened to Bernard “is manifestly a political form of police and judicial repression that marks a turning point in the arbitrary treatment against those opposed to marriage and adoption by couples of the same sex.”
He expressed appreciation for “the commitment of young Nicolas” and of those like him who “resolutely and without violence work to defend the right of children to grow up with a father and a mother…They are the pride and hope of our society.”