French tabloid Closer on Friday ran photographs of Florian Philippot, vice president of far right group Front National (FN), and his alleged boyfriend, an unnamed TV journalist, on a trip to Vienna last week.
A photograph of the pair – with the unnamed man’s face has been blurred out – is seen on the front page next to the headline ‘Yes to love for everyone’ (Oui a l’amour pour tous), a play on words with the anti-same-sex marriage movement’s slogan ‘Demo for all’ (Le Manif pour tous).
Rumored to be gay, he has on numerous occasions denied to answer questions from reporters, according to media reports.
RFI France notes that FN leader Marine Le Pen has ‘carefully avoided close association with the anti-gay marriage protests’ as she is ‘work(ing) hard to repackage her party and try to divest it of its old image as an anti-Semitic, racist, homophobic outfit.’
France legalized same-sex marriage after President Francois Hollande signed the measure into law following months of bitter political debate and massive street protests opposing the move.
Politicians across the board have slammed the expose as an unacceptable invasion of Philippot’s privacy.
FN leader Marine Le Pen, who is the daughter of the party’s founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, has defended her deputy leader saying: ‘This is a very serious infringement of an individual’s privacy. This type of behaviour is unbearable – Florian Philippot is entitled to a private life as much as [President] Hollande.’
MP Nicolas Bays of the ruling Socialist party has also called the magazine’s decision ‘unacceptable’.
‘Even if I abhor (Philippot’s) ideas, the right to a private life is sacred,’ he said.
Closer’s editor, Laurence Piau, says her decision to out the politician as in the public’s interest.
She told Europe 1 radio, ‘Florian Philippot is a high-profile figure, he’s the most invited guest on morning media shows after Marine Le Pen and the FN is a party like any other, if we believe what has been said of late.’
‘Can you imagine that the number two of the Front National, who could take power if you believe what the FN says, could take up his post without every mentioning his family, his private relationships, without having a wife, or a girl or boyfriend? How is that possible in 2014?’ She asked while noting that heterosexual public figures received just as much scrutiny.
The UK Telegraph quoted Closer’s editor as saying that the magazine’s revelations could explain the FN’s leader’s (Marine Le Pen) decision not to participate in marches against gay marriage last year although prominent members of her party, notably her niece Marion Maréchal Le Pen, an MP, were present in the ‘Demos for All’ protests, some of whose supporters are virulently homophobic.
‘Florian Philippot’s personal life could perhaps have an influence on the lack of a stance on gay marriage by a part of the party,’ she said.