Gay Air France Crew Don’t Want To Fly To Iran Either

Filed Under: Air France

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 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)

  1. I am totally for the right for gay AF crew to op out of Iran flights; and out of any ME countries that oppress human rights.

  2. What about Dubai? Jeddah? The many conservative countries in Africa and ME? Maybe they should stop flying altogether? Feels ridiculous to only bring this issue up when it comes to Iran and not the multitude of countries that have similar or worse policies

  3. I’m all for Air France making the exceptions – if anything, it’s a type of pressure on the Iranians to come out of the Dark Ages…though in all reality, someone else less scrupulous will simply pick up the routes. That being said, I’d be curious to know how many of these flight attendants willingly travel to Dubai, Maldives, Egypt, or Morocco, where they could theoretically face just a bad a fate for being openly gay.

  4. @Zach, @Bobby J, isn’t it hypocritical to say that Iran is in the Dark Ages, or oppresses human rights? Are you basing these statements from a Western, post-modern, perspective? What are you basing your very non-tolerant opinions on.

    It’s clear that Iran and most Muslims in the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa, and Southeast Asia base their understanding of homosexuality on the Koran. Which is either right or wrong based on whether Allah is the only, true God or not, but they are not being hypocritical.

  5. There are 79 countries in the world where being gay is punishable. Why pick on Iran?

    Maybe AF should just stop flying to all countries that dont speak French, have the same laws as France…and dont make baguettes that meet French standards. I’m sure the unions would love that.

  6. It’s homosexual acts that are illegal in Iran, not simply being someone attracted to the same sex. Do all the gay FAs plan to have sex while in Iran? If not, they have nothing to worry about.

    Whereas the lack of a head covering on female FAs is something that is both illegal and quite obviously noticeable. So the female FAs can’t avoid committing a crime by avoiding certain actions.

    I can’t imagine you’d have any objection to Air France forcing gay FAs to work the Iran route, or others routes to countries where homosexual activity is illegal, since you travel to some of those same countries of concern (Maldives, etc, etc). Right?

  7. I have to say that, although I fight for LGBT rights here in Egypt, I don’t see how this could be necessary. I completely understand the fears of the crew members, but there truly is no danger. Unless they are planning on cruising in Tehran, nothing will happen to them because a) diplomatic relations and b) they haven’t broken any laws. Now, the argument of the female crew members was that they had to actively change something in order to get into the country (i.e. wear a headscarf), but in this case it’s basically the same thing as a liberal person travelling to a dictatorship… unless you’re demonstrating, it’s all OK.
    Now, I wouldn’t argue against them, because at the end of the day it’s much easier to sit here and type these words, but I’m just saying that if I were gay, I would still take the flight. I understand how my opinion would vary if I was the person in question.

  8. It does seem a bit strange that they (the gay employees and the women) are making such a big stink about flying to Iran but not the other places, like flying to Riyadh. Why is it ok for gay employees to fly there? And why is it ok for female employees to wear the hijab in Riyadh but not Tehran?

  9. If its homosexual acts that are illegal and not being gay itself then i think this is getting out of hand (obviously if there are places where you can be arrested just because you are gay a gay crew member should never be required to go to that destination). Personally i dont think anyone should be allowed to opt out. Im more sympathetic to the gay staff though than i am to the female crew. I dont know the numbers, but now they are down to requiring only straight men to make these flights, so those people now have to take this assignment when they may want other more popular assignments instead?

  10. @Ben Thornton Uh, the Dark Ages are known as such because that’s when Europeans ran the place based on the Bible and belief in a one, true god named Jehovah. So, an apt comparison based on your very own definition. Also apt to say “come out of the Dark Ages”, just as those Europeans already did. Nobody said anything about it being hypocritical except you.

  11. I think Iran and the Middle East should change they way they criminalize LGBT people and woman and until that change happens that people affected by their draconian laws shouldn’t have to travel there against their will.

  12. AF flew to Iran up until 2008. Lufthansa still flies there. presumably gay crews worked the flights to Iran on both AF then and on LH now. I have heard no stories about cabin crew from either these or other international airlines that fly to Iran having any situations because of their sexuality. If you can find any, please point them out.

    AF/KLM/ LH flies to other countries such as the UAE, Uganda, Nigeria, Mauritania with laws that are very similar to those in Iran. Why aren’t the flight attendants saying no to those routes?

    This seems ridiculous

  13. All it will take is one situation to occur in Iran involving a female flight attendant not wearing a scarf or a gay/lesbian flight attendant getting into a sticky sexual situation to make this a public relations disaster for Air France. Personally, I don’t see any problems. When you fly as a FA for an airline…and to some extant the country the airline flies for – you are a representative of that airline & that country. I would assume that all cabin crews are given cultural/political sensitivity training (what about Saudi flights?) before flying international routes. Unless you wear your sexuality on your sleeve – this is a no brainer. And I’m an openly gay traveler too. But I conform to whatever country I’m in because I respect their cultural & political requirements & laws

  14. Let them opt out. They execute gay people in Iran. I sure wouldn’t want the work stress that comes from that knowledge.

  15. @Lisa – News flash: Much can be attributed to the church for why Europe came out of the dark ages. Most of the centers for learning at the time were monasteries, and coincidentally it was AFTER the dark ages that a a large number of European Cathedrals were built.

    It’s an interesting ‘alternate’ side of the LBGT issue. What if a Christian didn’t want to fly to liberal parts of the US (say Seattle and San Francisco) because of their stance on straight marriage? And I don’t mean hating, bigotrous disagreement, I mean simply the respectful “I’m sorry, I dont agree with the gay lifestyle” stance.

  16. Seems like AF is better off hiring local crew based in IKA to serve the IKA-CDG route rather than deal with all this exception headache.

  17. Opting out is just that “opting out”. If you feel that going to a place that would put you in peril is not an option for you, then by all means, “opt out”. Forcing someone to go someplace that could result in “unintended consequences” is not acceptable.

    There are many places in this world I would rather not go due to safety. It doesn’t mean I’m doing anything “illegal” by that country’s standards. Sometimes you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. But giving you the opportunity to “opt out” is preferable compared to the impact and potential litigation involved if something does happen and you weren’t given that chance.

  18. I wonder how many straight FAs will complain that they want the option to opt out of the Tehran route if they wanted to.

  19. Eric – are you stupid or just uneducated? Please if it’s the first case then I’m sorry for you bit of it’s the second…

    Gay men and women RISK their lives in most countries in the Middle East!

    So EDUCATE yourself!!!

  20. Sounds like theres plenty of fears of Iran. Fears does make people do funny thing. They tend to find something to get out of the situation(s).

    Like you said, its a slippery slope. Major time for sure.

  21. @Zach “I am totally for the right for gay AF crew to op out of Iran flights”

    Probably one of the few times spelling out ‘Air France’ would have been worth the time.

  22. “All it will take is one situation to occur in Iran involving a female flight attendant not wearing a scarf or a gay/lesbian flight attendant getting into a sticky sexual situation to make this a public relations disaster for Air France.”

    It hasn’t happened in all the times Air France has flown to Saudi Arabia, and all the times they flew to Tehran pre-2008. So why is it an issue now? And why are the only focusing on Tehran? Why don’t they feel the need to opt out of other places? Or will Tehran be a test case, and next they’ll make an attempt to opt of Riyadh as well?

  23. “… given that international inspectors have confirmed that Iran has allegedly dismantled their nuclear program.”

    Can something be both ‘alleged’ and ‘confirmed’ at the same time?

  24. I think every employee should be allowed to opt out of flying to Iran. It is a repressive backward country and that is good enough reason in my book. Use crews that like flying there or use Tehran based crews. Simple enough.

  25. @Rocco Siffrrdi – Nope, totally educated as you apparently are not and certainly not stupid. See also @Abdel Rahim Abdallah’s comments right below mine.

    LUCKY – still wondering about whether YOU have any objection to Air France forcing gay FAs to work the Iran route, or others routes to countries where homosexual activity is illegal, since you travel to some of those same countries of concern (Maldives, etc, etc)?

    You’ve asked the readers what we think but have noticeably avoided expressing a firm opinion yourself.

  26. I think it is utterly disgusting and disgraceful that the Iranians think they can just kill people because of their sexual orientation; they are very low forms of life. Therefore, gay air France crew should be allowed to decide whether or not they want to work these flights not only for the reason that they are not accepted there but at their own risk of being executed (how could people consciously do that execute people for their sexuality!? unbelievable in our modern world that we (as a human race) still do those types of things)

  27. I hope you realize that these people will kill you merely for not being Islamic. Hell, they’re even killing their fellow Muslims. This isn’t an anti-gay problem, it’s an anti-them problem. They’re animals. But for some reason in America everybody ignores all these atrocities.

  28. Gee,this generated a lot of comments.
    @Eric @Bill
    @Abdel:I see what you did there. I’m sure Iran is like every other democratic country where not breaking the law never leads to arrest and prosecution.
    I would suggest you find whoever told you about Iran following it’s own laws and call him a mean name for making you look bad.

    I’ve decided not to go to the Maldives , or the UAE again because one country sentenced a woman to death for pre-marital sex and the other sentenced a woman to death by stoning for extra-marital sex.
    Thankfully, Maldivian law is so enlightened it doesn’t apply to foreigners.
    I don’t have to agree with these countries’ laws, and I don’t have to fly their airlines or visit their cities.

    Of course, any FA who is dumb enough when hired to think he or she won’ have to fly to a country which has anti-gay or anti-woman laws, is truly, an idiot.

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