The suicide of a 13-year-old French boy who was subjected to homophobic bullying at school has prompted expressions of shock in the country and warnings that homophobia kills.
Prosecutors have opened an investigation into harassment of a minor after the boy, Lucas, took his own life last weekend in the Vosges region of eastern France.
Regional prosecutor Frederic Nahon said late Thursday that the boy’s friends told investigators he had been the victim of bullying “by pupils at his school for several months due to his homosexuality”.
The family has yet to file a criminal complaint but the situation at the Louis Armand school in the town of Golbey has been reported to the education ministry, the prosecutor added.
“I am thinking of all the students like him who are bullied. Their despair is the basis of my determination to prevent all forms of bullying,” France’s Education Minister Pap Ndiaye wrote on Twitter.
Transport Minister Clement Beaune, who came out as gay while serving as Europe minister in 2020, tweeted: “Homophobia kills. Sadness and support to the family of Lucas.”
“This is intolerable,” added Diversity Minister Isabelle Rome. “All light must be shed on this tragedy and the homophobic circumstances surrounding it,” she said.
Catherine Faivre, a lawyer representing the boy’s family, told AFP that before considering filing a complaint the family “wanted to bury their son in peace”.
The funeral is due to take place in the town of Epinal on Saturday. The Stop Homophobie anti-discrimination charity said his parents would ask mourners to bring LGBTQ signs in solidarity.
The local education authority said that Lucas had been the target of “mockery” at school since the end of the holidays in September.
“This was immediately taken seriously by the teams at the school, who showed great care on a daily basis,” it said.