French minister under fire for admission of paying 'boy' prostitutes

An aide to President Nicolas Sakozy has defended the French culture minister, Frederic Mitterrand, who faces calls for his resignation over comments he made on paying "boys" for sex in his autobiography, "The Bad Life", published in 2005.


REUTERS - A senior aide to French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday defended Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand who is facing calls for his resignation for having written about paying boys for sex.


The revelations were made in a 2005 autobiography "The Bad Life" and have surfaced after Mitterrand passionately defended film-maker Roman Polanski, who faces deportation from Switzerland were he was arrested to the United States for having had sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.


Politicians from all parties have criticised Mitterrand for his attack on the United States. The far-right National Front party has called for him to step down.


"French political debate sometimes takes on a pathetic form.  It’s excessive and quite undignified," Sarkozy adviser Henri Guaino said on France 2 television.


Asked whether Mitterrand should resign, he said: "When there is a controversy as pathetic as this, with so much delay, I don’t think there should be such drastic consequences."


Guaino said there were no facts to back up the accusations and Mitterrand had not been subject to any legal complaints.


The experiences in the book are presented as a mixture of straight autobiography and more dreamlike reflection.


“I got into the habit of paying for boys,” Mitterrand wrote, adding that his attraction to young male prostitutes continued even though he knew “the sordid details of this traffic”.


“All these rituals of the market for youths, the slave market excited me enormously ... the abundance of very attractive and immediately available young boys put me in a state of desire.”


Mitterrand is the nephew of former Socialist President Francois Mitterrand and was drafted into Sarkozy’s centre-right cabinet in June.


Although he was not a Socialist, his surname still reverberates in France and carries a lot of clout. Sarkozy was delighted to have brought him on board, but now faces unease within his own UMP party over his choice of minister.


France considers itself to be at the forefront of the fight against sex tourism but Guaino said Mitterrand would not compromise this position.


"I have not heard Frederic Mitterrand say anything against France’s position of fighting sex tourism," Guaino said.


Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said Mitterrand was respected for his competence in the role of culture minister.


Although still openly siding with Polanski, Mitterrand has toned down his language, saying his emotions overtook him the day he heard that Switzerland had arrested the film director.

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