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Sex shop near school sparks row with church

Matthew Warren · 8 Feb 2012, 08:23

Published: 08 Feb 2012 08:23 GMT+01:00

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An argument sparked by the Catholic church over the location of a shop selling sex toys will move to a Paris courtroom today where lawyers will argue over whether its products qualify as pornographic.

A French law from 1987 states that no shops selling pornography are allowed within 200 metres of a school. Breaking the law risks two years in prison and a fine of €30,000 ($39,750).

The "1969 Curiosités Désirables" shop, located 90 metres from the Saint-Merri school close to the Pompidou Centre, has provoked the anger of the Catholic family associations CNAFC and CLER Amour et Famille.

The two associations have complained that the shop, which sells products including vibrators, furry handcuffs and massage creams, breaks the law.

The shop has defended itself, saying its products are not pornographic.

"It's not a sex shop, it's a love shop," said the shop's lawyer, Richard Malka, on TF1 television news.

"There's nothing sleazy, no video cabins, no pornographic publications," he said. "It's saucy, playful, glamorous even and 70 percent of the clients are women."

He added that the complaint was from "another era."

The two religious associations counter that the law is on their side.

"MPs included accessories and sex toys in their 2007 debate," said their lawyer, Henri de Beauregard, referring to a reform to the law made that year.

De Beauregard specified that the updated law defined pornographic items to include "physiological mechanical devices that remove any romantic context from love making."

He added that many of the shop's products fit this description. 

The shop's lawyer said that if the law was strictly applied, no shop selling similar wares would be able to operate in Paris at all.

"There's nowhere in Paris where you don't find a school within 200 metres," he said. 

"If the law was interpreted in the way the plaintiffs want, it wouldn't be possible to sell sex toys in Paris at all and we'd have to close shops that sell them like Galeries Lafayette and La Redoute."


Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

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