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French culture minister Frederic Mitterrand is facing calls for resignation over 2005 autobiography passages in which he admitted to paying "young boys" for sex while traveling abroad.In his 2005 book, La Mauvaise Vie, Mitterrand recounts the thrill of engaging with prostitutes despite "the sordid details of this traffic," reports Reuters.
"I got into the habit of paying for boys," Mitterrand wrote. "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 facing criticism from both conservatives and liberals.
Marine Le Pen, vice president of the far right National Front party, demanded Mitterrand's resignation, and the party is circulating a petition calling for the politician to step down.
Benoit Hamon, a senior Socialist Party leader, also found the account inappropriate. "I find it shocking that a man can justify sex tourism under the cover of a literary account," said Hamon, according to London's Times.
Mitterrand, who drew criticism for his supporter of Roman Polanski following his arrest in September for having had sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977, is surprised by the public outrage.
"I am flabbergasted," Mitterrand told reporters, reports Reuters. "If the National Front drag me through the mud then it is an honor for me. If a leftist politician drags me through the mud then it is a humiliation for him."
This is not the first time the politician has had to clarify the language used in the autobiography.
In a 2005 interview, Mitterrand told France3 television that he did not partake in sex with any underage male prostitutes, and that the term "boys" is what the gay community calls men regardless of age.
"They say boys when you are 60 years old," said Mitterrand, reports the Times.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's government has not commented on the calls for resignation.