French Culture Minister Paid for Sex with ’Boys’
A scandal involving the Cultural Minister of France--the nephew of former French President François Mitterrand--has led to an outcry demanding the resignation of Frédéric Mitterrand.
Mitterand, reported an Oct. 7 article at U.K. newspaper The Telegraph, admitted to paying for sex with young males in Thailand in his memoir, published in 2005, long before Miterand joined the Sarkozy government last June.
But it was not until a member of a political party in opposition to the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), which dominates the government and to which French President Nicolas Sarkozy belongs, read passages in his book aloud on a talk show that Mitterand experienced a backlash from his admission.
Mitterand’s autobiography, titled The Bad Life, contains passages in which Mitterand discussed having paid for sexual services from boys in Thailand. One such passage read, "I got into the habit of paying for boys," the Telegraph reported.
The Telegraph article quoted further from the book: "All these rituals of the market for youths, the slave market excite me enormously," Mitterand wrote.
The book went on, "One could judge this abominable spectacle from a moral standpoint but it pleases me beyond the reasonable."
The article noted that following the arrest of film director Roman Polanski, who had been wanted on a U.S. warrant for three decades for having sex with a then-13-year-old girl, Mitterand spoke up to defend Polanski, causing controversy when he did so.
But Mitterand’s own admission of having had sex with boys provided ready ammunition for opposition party the National Front, an extreme right political party established by Jean-Marie Le Pen in 1972.
It was Le Pen’s daughter, Marine Le Pen, who brought the account of sex with boys to national attention, reading aloud from Mitterand’s book during an appearance on a talk show.
The Telegraph article reported that Ms. Le Pen read, "The profusion of very attractive and immediately available young boys puts me in a state of desire that I no longer need to hinder nor hide...as I know that I will not be refused."
An Oct. 8 BBC News article reported that Ms. Le Pen called Mitterand’s engagement in sex tourism "an indelible stain on the government," and demanded his resignation, saying, "Resign, Mr Mitterrand and perhaps, afterwards we’ll be able to give lessons to other people."
Mitterand, meantime, has answered charges of pedophilia with the claim that he was speaking in generalities when he described the sex workers with whom he transacted "boys."
An Oct. 8 Daily News article said that Mitterand sought to clarify what he had written in his book, appearing on television to say that he never engaged in pedophilia.
"These were normal relationships," Mitterrand declared during the television appearance. "I never committed pedophilia."
Mitterrand called his sessions with Thai men "a mistake certainly, a crime no," adding, "Nor a fault because each time I was with people of my age, [or] who were five years older than me.
"There was never the slightest ambiguity," Mitterand insisted, "and they were consenting."
Ms. Le Pen’s demand for Mitterand’s resignation was quickly taken up by others, including France’s Socialist party, whose spokesperson, Benoît Hamon, was quoted in the Telegraph article as saying of Mitterand, "As a minister of culture he has drawn attention to himself by defending a film maker and he has written a book where he said he took advantage of sexual tourism.
"To say the least, I find it shocking."
The Telegraph reported that Mitterand described himself as being "flabbergasted" buy the to-do, but that he responded with defiance.
"If the National Front drag me through the mud then it is an honor for me," Mitterand declared.
"If a leftist politician drags me through the mud then it is a humiliation for him," Mitterand went on to say.
The moderately right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party spoke up on Mitterand’s behalf.
The Telegraph reported that UMP party head Xavier Bertrand deplored the rhetoric aimed at Mitterand, saying, "The Socialists are now on the same ground as the extreme right, it’s incredible.
"One is not obliged to use private life for political ends."