After a strong resurgence in homophobic attacks against him on social media, the French representative at Erovision 2019 decided to act and launched a complaint against this online bullying.
An “avalanche of hatred” since the victory
Bilal Hassani first saw a resurgence of homophobic attacks online when he was announced as a candidate for Destination Eurovision in early December. But after his victory, the “hatred campaign” turned into “an avalanche” according to his lawyer, Mr. Étienne Deshoulières. So much that yesterday, Bilal decided to inform the authorities by lodging an official complaint.
The complaint is made “against X”, a French expression meaning “against unknown persons”, since the attacks come from a multitude of social media accounts. It has been filed as charges of “homophobic threats, outrage and incitation to hatred and violence” (injures, provocation à la haine et à la violence et menaces homophobes). As his lawyer said to the press, the sentence for such charges can reach six years of jailtime and a fine of 45,000€ (£39,300) in France.
Not the first case of cyber-bullying for Bilal
Bilal is no stranger to online bullying. His public coming-out in 2017 on Twitter, his love for wigs, and his personality have always come with a batch of haters. Yet, in November 2018, a tweet showing a live performance of his cover of Aya Nakamura’s “Djada” caused a peak of incredibly violent attacks and death threats on Twitter. Although the “regular” bullying had made the Youtuber “immune” to haters, this extreme wave of hatred made him lodge a complaint at the time too.
He also received the support of two MPs in November, who wrote an official letter to the French branch of Twitter to incite the social media giant to take actions, denouncing its “inertia” about cyber-bullying.
The ESCXTRA team collectively supports Bilal and wholeheartedly condemns any form of bullying, be it virtual or “IRL”, homophobic or anything else.