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25% of Anglo-Saxon Men Gay, French Premier Reportedly Says

TIMES STAFF WRITER

French Prime Minister Edith Cresson was at the center of a political and journalistic furor Monday over an interview in which she was quoted as saying that 25% of Anglo-Saxon males are homosexual.

In the House of Commons, Conservative lawmaker Tony Marlow declared that Parliament should “stand up for” the British.

“Mrs. Cresson has sought to insult the virility of the British male because the last time she was in London she did not get enough admiring glances,” he said.

London newspapers were quick to defend the English male, and the tabloids dredged up cliches about “Gay Paree,” pointing out that some Frenchmen carry handbags and kiss each other in public.

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The Daily Telegraph, in a more serious vein, said the reported attack by the 57-year-old Cresson, France’s first woman prime minister, was unfair. If British Prime Minister John Major painted such a stereotype of French women, it said, he would be “turned out of office” for racism, sexism and anti-Europeanism.

The comments attributed to Cresson were printed Sunday by the Observer of London and were described as part of a 4-year-old interview conducted by London writer and publisher Naim Attallah as he gathered material for a book about women.

Cresson made no public comment Monday, but an aide in Paris said she had denied ever meeting Attallah.

“We are completely confident it is authentic,” the Observer’s editor, Donald Trelford, said Monday.

In the interview published in the Observer, Cresson was quoted as responding to a suggestion that in Anglo-Saxon countries men preferred the company of other men: “Yes, but the majority of these men are homosexual--perhaps not the majority--but in the U.S.A. there are already 25% of them, and in England and Germany it is much the same. You cannot imagine it in the history of France.”

Another quote deals with sexual affairs:

“In France, it’s seen as all right if a man--even a public man--has affairs, casual flings. In America I know he mustn’t, but here. . . . I think we order things better here. That sort of thing is part of ordinary life, and no one attaches much importance to it; on the contrary, it’s considered almost to the credit of the person concerned.”

She adds that “women also can have passing affairs in the same way as men. I do not think that in either case it is a fit subject for jokes, something to be laughed at; it is simply a biological fact.”

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