Arab World Institute Head Regrets Signing Letter Proposing Decriminalization of Sex with Children

Former French Culture Minister and current President of the Arab World Institute (IMA) Jack Lang attends an award giving ceremony at IMA on March 13, 2015 in Paris. French television and radio show host and producer Eve Ruggieri was awarded by Lang on March 13 with the insignia of Officer …
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The director of the French Arab World institute has expressed regret for signing a 1977 letter that called for decriminalising adults having sex with children.

Jack Lang, a former Socialist Party politician, former French minister, and former mayor, was confronted on Monday about his signing of a January 1977 letter published as an op-ed in the newspapers Le Monde and Libération and which argued for the decriminalisation of sexual acts with children.

The letter was also signed by French philosopher Michel Foucault and former Green Party member of the European Parliament Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the latter having written a book called The Great Bazaar in 1975 which detailed sexual encounters with children as young as five.

“There were many of us at the time who signed this platform: there was Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Michel Foucault, a series of intellectuals,” Lang told Europe1.

“It’s the unspeakable indeed. Since then, I fight, and I have fought, against incest, paedophilia, and sexual violence,” Lang said after being confronted with portions of the letter that decried children as young as 13 being denied an “emotional and sexual life”.

“Today, it is unacceptable and intolerable. Today, we are fighting against these incests […], the attacks on minors… It’s revolting. Before getting carried away: One day there were about 50 of us who wrote bullshit. What am I supposed to do? Immolate myself in front of you?  I made a mistake. It was all bullshit, and that’s it,” he added.

Lang was also confronted with his prior relationship to American billionaire Jeffery Epstein, who had been arrested on child sex charges before allegedly taking his own life in a New York prison in 2019.

“Epstein has nothing to do with it. Someone can be for a moment a charming man, and then you discover three years later, he is a bastard. We’re not going to penalise people who have been kind to others they thought were charming until we found out they were garbage,” Lang said.

Decriminalising pedofilia was, for a while, a ‘trendy‘ cause that gained some acceptance in liberal-left intellectual circles in Europe. In the United Kingdom, a group called the ‘Pedophile Information Exchange’ (PIE) was affiliated with the mainstream campaign group National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) in the 1970s.

This relationship came under scrutiny in the 2000s by which time former organisers and advocates from the NCCL had become senior ministers in Britain’s left-wing Labour government.

Then-leader of the House of Commons and Women’s and Equality minister Harriet Harman came under attack in 2009 when it was claimed she had lobbied the government in 1978 as the NCCL’s legal officer, arguing to soften the Protection of Children Bill, which sought to make pornographic images of those under 16 illegal. Harman was reported to be “furious” at the claims in 2014 and claimed to be the victim of a smear campaign.

Tony Blair’s health secretary Patricia Hewitt had also worked for the NCCL in the 1970s, rising to be its general secretary. She apologised for her role in 2014 after letters between her and PIE emerged, cut claimed she was “naive” at the time and said she never supported “vile” child abusers. Just days later, another letter was revealed in the UK Guardian newspaper in which Hewitt had defended the NCCL’s proposal to lower the age of consent ina reply to an outrages school teacher, who had written to the NCCL to criticise their policy.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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