For Dan Air, a gay 11-year veteran of the cabin crew of a British-based airline, the call for a boycott of Air France’s newly resumed Paris-Tehran route by one of its gay flight attendants is totally justified.
It could even be the start of more refusals to fly to countries like Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and others where, like Iran, homosexuality is punishable by death, he said. “I'm completely and utterly behind them,” said Air, who uses a pseudonym when writing his blog, Confessions of a Trolley Dolly.
“I wouldn’t be happy about flying to Tehran either,” he said. “Who wants to go to a country where you might be killed for being gay? You ought to be given the option of not going if you feel you could be unsafe. When you’re gay and take a job as a flight attendant, you know you’re going into a fairly hospitable environment. It’s not like you’re working for a sports team. So to then be put in the position to fly to a place where they might kill you? No.”
At the same time, the head of Air France’s LGBT union told The Daily Beast on Wednesday that it was “ludicrous” for a gay flight attendant to demand the right not to work the Paris-Tehran flight.
“If they don’t want to fly to Tehran, why not refuse to fly to the 20 other destinations Air France flies to where there are anti-gay laws?” said Sébastien Gidon, president of the union Personn’Ailes. “I think this is the work of one isolated person and it doesn’t necessarily reflect the majority of gay flight attendants.”
Air France recently announced that it will resume thrice-weekly flights to Iran from Paris next week after an eight-year hiatus due to international sanctions.
Problems first arose a week ago, when female flight attendants and female pilots were angered by a memo saying they’d have to wear head scarves when exiting the plane in Tehran. Air France, in a compromise negotiated with the unions, eventually agreed to let female flight attendants opt out of the Iran flights if they wanted—without retribution.
But the airline has not yet responded to an open letter written to the French government and Air France CEO Frédéric Gagey this week by a man calling himself “Laurent M” with the title “Gay stewards from Air France don’t want to fly to the death penalty in Iran.”
“Our sexuality isn’t written on our passports and it doesn’t change how we work as a crew,” Laurent M wrote. “But it is inconceivable to force someone to go to a country where people of his kind are condemned for who they are.”
A petition launched at the same time had more than 15,000 signatures by Wednesday night.