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Row after French mag outs gay far-right boss

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Row after French mag outs gay far-right boss
Florian Philippot, a close advisor of party leader Marine Le Pen, is seen on the front cover of the French edition of Closer walking beside a man. Photo: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP
16:09 CET+01:00
Gossip magazine Closer has caused controversy again after it made public the homosexuality of a top member of France's far-right National Front party by publishing photos of him with his alleged partner. Politicians and journalists have reacted angrily.

Florian Philippot, one of the FN’s five vice-presidents and a close advisor of party leader Marine Le Pen, is seen on the front cover of the French edition of Closer walking beside a man (whose face has been smudged out) next to the headline ‘Yes to love for everyone’ (Oui a l'amour pour tous).

That was a play on words with the anti-gay marriage movement "Le Manif pour tous" (Demo for all), which backed by Philippot's own party.

It’s a scoop which has sent shockwaves through France’s political classes but not so much for the revelation of Philippot’s sexuality as for the magazine’s audacity and apparent invasion of privacy.

“Deplorable,” tweeted Philippot’s socialist rival Jean-Pierre Michel, a firm supporter of a divisive gay marriage bill that became law in France in 2013.

“Unacceptable. Even if I don’t support his ideas, the right to privacy is sacred,” added socialist deputy Nicolas Bays.

Perhaps most expected of all the reactions was that of Front National boss Marine Le Pen, who has previously spoken out against gay marriage.

“It’s intolerable. If the publications accused of invading people’s privacy were forced to pay back the money they make from the revelations, they wouldn’t do it anymore,” Le Pen told French radio station Europe1.

Political journalists from right and left-leaning newspapers slammed what the French call the "outing".

"What will we have next, electoral lists with the sexuality of the politician listed next to their name?", one Le Monde journalists commented. 

Closer’s editor Laurence Pieau defended her publication’s stance on the same radio station, arguing that any high-profile figure or politician would inevitably have their private life exposed.

“How can you expect the number two of the National Front, who could even reach power in France, to be able to achieve such a position without disclosing information about his or her family, relationships, or without having a wife or friends?" Pieau claimed.

“Can you imagine that in 2014?”

Closer made international headlines in January when it published an exposé revealing French President François Hollande’s secret affair with actress Julie Gayet behind the back of his then partner Valérie Trierweiler.

Gayet later won a privacy lawsuit against Closer and another tabloid magazine for photos they published that were considered a breach of her privacy.

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