The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recently overturned the ruling of a French court that had fined and issued a jail sentence to a feminist who interrupted a Roman Catholic church service and “aborted” Jesus on the altar while topless.

Eloïse Bouton was bare-breasted and painted in pro-choice slogans all over her body when, in December 2013, she interrupted Christmas carols at Paris’ famous Madeleine church and protested the Catholic Church’s teachings against abortion by simulating an abortion of Jesus.

Wearing a crown of thorns to mock Jesus Christ and a blue veil to deride the Virgin Mary, Bouton carried pieces of ox livers to symbolize an aborted baby as she stood in front of the church altar and pretended to perform an “abortion” before urinating on the ground in front of the congregants.

Written on Bouton’s body at the time was the French phrase “344 salope,” which translates to “344th slut,” in reference to an open letter of 343 French women who admitted to having an abortion in 1971.

The Ukrainian group Femen, which Bouton used to be a member of, later celebrated the act on social media, writing “Christmas is canceled!” and that “the holy mother Eloïse has just aborted the embryo of Jesus on the altar of the Madeleine.”

A picture of Eloïse Bouton protesting against the Catholic Church's teaching on abortion.
Eloïse Bouton painted pro-choice slogans all over her body when she protested the Catholic Church’s teachings against abortion in December 2013.
AFP via Getty Images

The church’s priest filed a legal complaint against Bouton, who was found guilty by a French court of an unlawful “sexual display.” She was sentenced to more than a month in prison and ordered to pay the church €2,000, a punishment France’s highest court upheld.

In an opinion rendered on Oct. 13, the Strasbourg-based ECHR ruled that by punishing Bouton for her display, France violated the article of the European Convention on Human Rights that protects freedom of expression.

“The Court notes that the applicant’s conviction was based on the characterization of the offense of sexual exhibition,” the opinion said in part. “According to the Government, it was not intended to sanction [her] critical ideas and opinions on the doctrine of the Catholic Church.”

A picture of Eloïse Bouton protesting against the Catholic Church's teaching on abortion.
The church’s priest filed a legal complaint against the feminist and was sentenced to more than a month in prison.
AFP via Getty Images

“Nevertheless, the Court considers, as it has mentioned above …, that in view of its militant nature, the action of the applicant, who sought to express her political convictions, in line with the positions defended by the Femen movement on whose behalf she was acting, must be regarded as constituting a ‘performance’ falling within the scope of the article,” the opinion added.

ECHR ordered France to pay Bouton €9,800 for moral damages, legal costs, and expenses.

Grégor Puppinck, the director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, criticized the European court’s ruling, claiming in a statement on his organization’s website that the ECHR increasingly defends attacks against Christian churches on the continent while treating attacks against Islam differently.

A picture of Eloise Bouton arriving at Paris' 20th district courthouse in July 2014.
The European Convention on Human Rights ruled that France violated the article that protects freedom of expression, and ordered France to pay Bouton €9,800 for moral damages, legal costs, and expenses.
AFP via Getty Images

“In 2018, it had already ruled that the blasphemous provocation of the feminist punk group, the ‘Pussy riots,’ in the choir of the Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow was a form of expression protected by the Court,” Puppinck wrote.

“The Pussy riots’ lawyer, formerly working for [George] Soros foundation, has since become a judge at the ECHR. The same year, the Court also condemned Lithuania for sanctioning blasphemous advertisements featuring Christ and the Virgin Mary,” Puppinck continued.

Puppinck noted that, in 2018, the ECHR upheld the criminal conviction of a lecturer in Austria who characterized Mohammed’s sexual relationship with 9-year-old girl Aisha as pedophilic.



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