French MPs' 'boozy dinners' slammed after sexist chicken clucks

PARIS (AFP) - France's government spokeswoman complained on Wednesday of lawmakers partaking in too many "boozy dinners" after a right-wing MP mocked a female member of parliament with chicken noises.

Green Party MP Veronique Massonneau was interrupted in the National Assembly on Tuesday night by a lawmaker with the right-wing UMP party who made clucking noises while she presented an amendment.

The incident was widely denounced as sexist in a country where the word chicken is often used as a derogatory term for women. It follows several other recent cases of female politicians being mocked.

"It is regrettable that some people have difficulty maintaining an attitude that is consistent with their functions after obviously boozy dinners," government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said after a cabinet session.

Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti also denounced the incident as "deplorable".

"Unfortunately we've seen this before," she said. "It shows that we have to continue to fight to have women politicians respected."

The speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Claude Bartolone, briefly suspended the parliamentary session during the incident, which he described as "unbelievable behaviour".

Mr Bartolone did not name the MP responsible for the clucking, but several witnesses said it was Mr Philippe Le Ray, from the centre-right opposition UMP party.

Party officials said he had contacted Ms Massonneau on Wednesday to apologise.

Another Green Party MP, Housing Minister Cecile Duflot, was subjected to jeers and wolf-whistles last year while wearing a floral summer dress in the Assembly.