Homophobia at CERN's laboratory

The LGBT organisation at CERN’s laboratory in Geneva has been subjected to a homophobic abuse campaign, with the group’s posters being defaced with hate speech and bible quotes.

The European Organisation for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, has more than 2,500 members of staff and is hosting several thousand fellows, associates, apprentices as well as visiting scientists and engineers at any one time at its laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland.

It is the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, and is particularly well known for its work on The Large Hadron Collider, which lies in a tunnel underneath it and was used to prove the existence of the Higgs boson particle in 2012.

At least one researcher is reported by The Sunday Times to have been formally disciplined after CCTV cameras caught them defacing posters advertising CERN’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) club events.

LGBT CERN group members claim the abuse has been ongoing for years, with posters defaced with words such as “Schwein” (German for pig) and Old Testament biblical quotations describing sexual relations between men as an “abomination” for which they should be “put to death”.

“We do keep track of how many posters get taken down or defaced, and over a two- week period roughly one-third can be removed,” British physicist Aidan Randle-Conde told the newspaper. “I don’t know who is responsible, although it is probably the work of a few people. In some cases, there have been religious texts attached to the posters.”

Professor Butterworth, who sits as the British representative on CERN’s council, its equivalent to a non-executive board of directors, refused to be drawn on whether the laboratory was doing enough to tackle the problem. He said: “Diversity issues have featured in the five-year review so management is taking it seriously but whether that is enough is up to them to say. I would expect them to take it extremely serious. CERN has to be a place where people can work whatever their background.”

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