Gay flight attendants working for Air France are demanding the airline allow them to opt out of flights to Tehran when the airline resumes its flights to the Islamic Republic April 17 after an eight-year hiatus.
Homosexuality is a crime punishable by death in Iran.
Air France recently found itself embroiled in a dispute with female crew members when they announced that women employees must cover their hair and wear baggy trousers when disembarking in Iran. The airline backed down after objections by the trade union and subsequently made the route optional for female employees.
Now, the gay staff are asking for that same right. The online petition "We don't want to fly to death in Iran" launched by the attendants states:
"Air France has decided to return to Tehran. Before taking this decision, it did not ask flight attendants what they thought of the rights of women in this country, nor how they felt at the thought of having to wear scarves and wide trousers once at the destination.
"Fortunately, the unions intervened, the feminist cause is often seen, the media seized the debate, and the hostesses got (which would have seemed logical from the start) the right to refuse travel.
"It is this right that we ask today for gay stewards. Indeed, homosexuality remains illegal in this country. The penalty is up to 74 lashes for a minor, up to the death penalty for an adult (the method of execution remains at the discretion of the judge).
"Of course, sexuality is not written on passports and does not change the way the crew work. But for moral reasons as humans, it is inconceivable to force someone to go to a country where his kind are condemned for who they are.
"It is also ethically inconceivable to ask the people who fought in their country, in their environment or even in their family to be recognised for who they are to put a scarf over who they are, for their profession."