Now the kiosks are back in the news – but this time they’re getting very bad publicity.
One kiosquier, as they are known in French, is accused of refusing to sell customers a magazine because a picture of two male water poloists kissing passionately in a swimming pool.
Mediakiosk, the company that manages all kiosks in Paris, has shut down the one in question on Place de la République, suspended its manager, and launched an enquiry into whether or not he is guilty of homophobia.
— Le Parisien (@le_Parisien) May 5, 2019
The affair began last Saturday when a customer reported going to the kiosk to buy the sporting daily L’Equipe, which at the weekend comes with a glossy magazine which in its latest edition carried the picture of the men embracing with the headline “Kiss whoever you want.”
Inside was a long article on homophobia in sport.
The customer, named as Grégory Tilhac, said he asked the kiosquier for a copy, the man said he had none, but then admitted that he had not taken them out of the cardboard box they had arrived in.
“Are you homophobic?” Tilhac asked, according to an account he later published on Facebook.
“Yes,” came the alleged reply.
“Unabashed homophobia in all its horror,” wrote the customer, whose account was widely relayed on Twitter and soon came to the attention of the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo.
She tweeted that it was “unacceptable” and vowed to do all she could to battle “homophobic acts and words”.
C’est inacceptable ! Avec vous pour que le Droit s’applique, comptez sur mon soutien, tout sera mis en œuvre pour faire reculer les actes et les propos homophobes ?️? https://t.co/ZEZQcEAzM9
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) May 4, 2019
Mediakiosk, which runs the kiosk, told France Info radio that it would conduct an inquiry into what happened and would question the kiosquier on Tuesday, but said that the kiosquier in question had rejected the allegations.
Deputy Paris mayor Olivia Polski said he had been suspended.
The alleged incident comes after a series of homophobic attacks in the French capital, with a spike last autumn in assaults that gained a lot of media coverage partly because some victims decided to share their experience with a photograph of their injuries on social media.
The increase in attacks on homosexuals over the past year in France, where gay marriage has been legal since 2013, led to the country dropping a whopping 11 places in just a year in an annual gay travel index.
The Spartacus Gay Travel Index 2019 puts France in 17th place, down from sixth place a year ago.
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The kiosk that sparked the latest controversy was closed when The Local went to visit it on Monday, but the owners of other kiosks on the vast Place de la République had plenty to say on the subject.
“He has no right to try and censor things like that. I see men kissing on the footpath in front of my kiosk and that is their business,” said the kiosquier whose newspaper stand is directly opposite the one at the centre of the minor media storm. He did not want his name published.
Kamel, another kiosquier on the square, said he thought his colleague might be the innocent victim of a plot to stir up anti-Muslim sentiment, even if he wasn’t sure that the accused man was a Muslim.
“It’s the gay lobby that wants people to talk about it,” he said,
Porn mags are on open display in most kiosks in Paris.
He said that he couldn’t believe the man could be so stupid as to refuse to sell L’Equipe.
“He’s a businessman, It would not be in his interest,” he said, arguing that the kiosquier most likely sold porn mags so it would be unlikely that he would refuse to sell a magazine that merely showed two gay men kissing.
The Local could not verify that the shuttered kiosk at République did indeed sell porn, but all four other kiosks visited at random stocked a wide selection of sex magazines with naked women in lascivious positions on the front page.
The kiosk at the centre of the controversy in question lies about 20 metres away from a gym that is popular with the gay community.
Benoit Dufrene, 46, a part-time Parisian who breeds dogs in Burgundy, said he was shocked by reports that the kiosquier had refused to sell the L’Equipe magazine.
”It’s obvious that we need to fight to make sure that homophobic acts such as these stop happening,” he said.