Gay Jewish activist to head Arab institute

The French government has appointed Jack Lang, a campaigner for gay rights whose Jewish father is a Holocaust survivor, to head the Arab World Institute.

Lang, 73, of the Socialist Party, was named Jan. 25 as president of the prestigious cultural institution, which France runs jointly with 22 Arab countries. He served a decade as the education minister in France starting in 1981.

The institute, which is dedicated to promoting and exchanging information and cultural values of the Arab world, was founded in 1980 by the French government and 18 Arab countries, many of which regard homosexuality as a crime.

Lang, 73, was born to a Catholic mother and a Jewish father who survived World War II in hiding, according to French genealogist Alain Garric. Lang has a Jewish wife, Monique Buczynski, according to Garric.

Lang and his daughter, the well-known actress Valerie Lang, have spoken out recently in favor of allowing civil marriage for gay couples in France. — jta