Friday, 18 August 2017

Polish MEP punished for saying women are less intelligent than men – The Guardian


A far-right Polish MEP who said women must earn less than men because they are weaker, smaller and less intelligent has been handed an unprecedented punishment by the European parliament.

Janusz Korwin-Mikke caused uproar when he launched a sexist tirade this month during a debate in the parliament.

Its president, Antonio Tajani, said he was imposing unprecedented penalties in response. Korwin-Mikke will lose his daily subsistence allowance for 30 days, a total of €9,180 (£8,047) intended to cover his expenses while he attends parliament. He will also be suspended from all parliamentary work for 10 days and banned from representing the parliament for a year.

Issuing a statement during a parliament plenary session in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Tajani apologised to anyone who had been hurt or offended by the MEP’s outburst.

“I will not tolerate such behaviour, in particular when it comes from someone who is expected to discharge his duties as a representative of the peoples of Europe with due dignity,” Tajani said. “By offending all women, the MEP displayed contempt for our most fundamental values.”

Tajani launched an inquiry after a bitter exchange in the chamber this month in which Korwin-Mikke interrupted the female Spanish MEP, Iratxe García-Perez.

“Of course women must earn less than men because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent, they must earn less, that’s all,” he said. “Do you know how many women are in the first 100 of chess players. I tell you, no one.”

In comments that quickly went viral, García-Pérez replied: “According to what you are saying … I would not have the right to be here. I think I have to defend European women to men like you.”

European parliament rules require MEPs “not [to] resort to defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behaviour in parliamentary debates”.

In less than a week about 935,000 people had signed a petition written in Polish calling on the parliament to suspend Korwin-Mikke, who is well-known for his sexist and racist views.

The global campaign group Avaaz launched the petition on international women’s day, saying his “hateful remarks about women and migrants … betray the values of the entire EU, which our parliament is elected to defend.”

Korwin-Mikke is a member of the Eurosceptic and arch-conservative Congress of the New Right, a party he founded. An MEP since 2014, he sits as an independent and is not aligned to any of the big political groups.

He has previously been punished for racist remarks. In 2016 he lost 10 days of attendance allowances and was suspended for five days for describing Europe’s influx of migrants as “human garbage”. In October 2015 he was suspended for 10 days for making a Nazi salute in the European parliament.



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