France's government has named a respected diplomat who is said to be gay as the country's ambassador to UNESCO, several months after he was nominated as ambassador to the Vatican — a job he never started.

Laurent Stefanini was confirmed Wednesday by France's council of ministers as the country's top diplomat at the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Last year, France submitted Stefanini's nomination as ambassador to the Holy See. A French official said last June that the French government was awaiting a response shortly via Vatican diplomatic channels, but France subsequently disclosed no decision either way.

Gay rights groups had accused the Vatican of delaying a decision because of Stefanini's sexual orientation. The Vatican refused to comment on the proposed appointment from the start.