Air France has resumed flights to Iran this week after an eight-year hiatus due to sanctions against the Islamic Republic, but gay cabin crew are unhappy about being forced to fly the route. An initial row against resumption of the route erupted after female cabin crew were told they would need to cover their hair while in Iran, which some objected to doing, eventually leading the airline to permit women to opt out of the route.
But a subsequent petition by gay flight attendants against flying to Tehran, where homosexuality is punishable by death, has not yet resulted in a similar option for LGBT crew – leaving them forced to fly to a country where they will have to hide their sexual orientation.
More than 28,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org asking Air France to allow gay cabin crew the same rights as women in terms of opting out of the Tehran route but, thus far, the airline has not taken any action.
Union des Navigants de l'Aviation Civile (UNAC), which represents French cabin crew indicated that it was not backing the online petition.
Its secretary-general Jean Marc Quattrochi told Newsweek: "During the headscarf debate with Air France executives, our demand was to allow all crew members to refuse this particular destination.
"For the sexual inclination the problem is totally different and does not only concern this destination," adding that women could not hide their gender, while gay people did not need to announce their sexuality.
Air France currently flies to more than one destination that is not tolerant of homosexuality, including Mauritania, where homosexuality is punishable by death, and Dominica, where homosexuality carries a 15-year prison sentence or time in a psychiatric institute.
However, the petition argues gay cabin crew should not be forced to fly to a destination where they will have to hide who they are.
It stated: "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 time again to show that Air France believes in ethics, not only for its public image. Grant gay crews the right to refuse to go to a country where they could be killed for who they are."
Air France did not respond to a request for comment.