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.

"/> 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.

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Sex shop near school sparks row with church

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.

Sex shop near school sparks row with church
Benjamin Linh Vu

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.”

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CATHOLIC CHURCH

At least 3,000 paedophiles active in French church since 1950: report

Thousands of paedophiles have operated inside the French Catholic Church since 1950, the head of an independent commission investigating the scandal told AFP, days ahead of the release of its report.

French archbishop Cardinal Philippe Barbarin leads his last mass,on June 28, 2020. Barbarin was released on appeal on January 30 for his silence on the sexual abuse of a priest, and resigned quickly afterwards.
French archbishop Cardinal Philippe Barbarin leads his last mass,on June 28, 2020. Barbarin was released on appeal on January 30 for his silence on the sexual abuse of a priest, and resigned quickly afterwards. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

The commission’s research had uncovered between 2,900 and 3,200 paedophile priests or other members of the church, said Jean-Marc Sauve, adding that it was “a minimum estimate”.

The commission’s report is due to be released on Tuesday after two and a half years of research based on church, court and police archives, as well as interviews with witnesses.

The report, which Sauve said runs to 2,500 pages, will attempt to quantify both the number of offenders and the number of victims.

It will also look into “the mechanisms, notably institutional and cultural ones” within the Church which allowed paedophiles to remain, and will offer 45 proposals.

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The independent commission was set up in 2018 by the French Catholic Church in response to a number of scandals that shook the Church in France and worldwide.

Its formation also came after Pope Francis passed a landmark measure obliging those who know about sex abuse in the Catholic Church to report it to their superiors.

Made up of 22 legal professionals, doctors, historians, sociologists and theologians, its brief was to investigate allegations of child sex abuse by clerics dating back to the 1950s.

When it began its work it called for witness statements and set up a telephone hotline, then reported receiving thousands of messages in the months that followed.

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