Europe

France switches ambassador said to be gay to UNESCO

FILE - In this June 2, 2015 file photo chief of protocol at the French presidential palace, Laurent Stefanini, right, speaks with an unidentified person at the Elysee Palace in Paris. 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. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, File)

FILE - In this June 2, 2015 file photo chief of protocol at the French presidential palace, Laurent Stefanini, right, speaks with an unidentified person at the Elysee Palace in Paris. 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. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, File)  (The Associated Press)

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.