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March 29, 2000 06:26pm
Erotic Festival Ads Prompt Church Ire
Source: AFP

(TALLINN, Estonia) -- An erotic festival has earned itself a week full of free media coverage after religious leaders and women's groups issued protest statements against the event and its ad posters, depicting the drawing of bare female buttocks.

The Council of Estonian Churches, uniting eight confessions, said in a statement in Wednesday's newspapers that the public exposure of intimate parts of the body amounts to sexual harrassment of bypassers.

"The display of naked bodies on the streets is not tolerated by Estonian law, and the exposure of erotic pictures on the streets does not comply with the moral norms of our forbears," the statement said.

The protest was triggered by posters for an erotic festival L'Erotique, due to be held in Tallinn over the weekend. The posters with the naked bottom are lining the main streets of the capital Tallinn, where they are carried on rubbish bins attached to lamp-posts.

"How do I explain it to a five-year-old girl asking why somebody is showing her bottom every 15 metres on the main street ?" Eerik Joks, executive secretary of the Council of Churches, said in a radio programme.

He said the council was not against sex, but against the way in which overtly sexual material was being forced on the public.

"This is not democracy when all people are to be part of something that is below their moral standard," the statement said.

The ministry of culture and the Tallinn city government said the posters did not violate Estonian laws and would not be removed.

A representative of the Roman Catholic Church in Estonia also criticized the use of the French word L'Erotique on the poster.

"When it's something to do with eroticism, it is thought that French words add excitement to it," Philippe Jourdan, chief vicar of the Roman Catholics in Estonia, told the Eesti Paevaleht daily.

"For some reason, French culture is considered frivolous," said Jourdan, who is a French national.

The festival has also fallen foul with the Estonian Language Board which issued a decree last week to remove the French word from the posters.

Under the Estonian language law, public notices must be in the state language, Estonian.

The festival organizers refused to comply, saying "L'Erotique" was part of the event's trademark and thus not part of the notice.

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