January 30, 2007


The following was written for Gay City News -- New York's largest gay weekly -- which published it on January 16. Technical difficulties prevented my posting it here until now:

Eu_logo_3 As the European Parliament--which in the past has played a key role in advancing gay rights on the Continent-opened its new session in its headquarters at Strasbourg, France, its political complexion has undergone a significant change with the arrival of 53 new, mostly conservative deputies from Bulgaria and Romania, dimming prospects for further progress and strengthening the neo-fascist bloc.

The two countries acceded to full membership in the European Union earlier this month-and the Continental press has been filled with commentaries about the Europarliament's "lurch to the right," as the leading French daily Le Monde put it.

"LGBT issues have become infinitely more complicated as the center of gravity of Louisgeoirge_tin_3_2 the European Parliament has shifted further to the right than ever before," Professor Louis-Georges Tin (right), president of the International Committee for the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) --which was endorsed last year by the Europarliament-told me by telephone from Paris.

One immediate result of the shifting composition was to give the ultra-homophobic neo-fascist bloc in the Europarliament enough members, or MEPs as the deputies are known, to form its own recognized parliamentary group for the very first time. The neo-fascist group, to be called "Identity, Dimitar_stoyanov Tradition, Sovereignty" (ITS), will be given a budget of one million Euros (nearly $1.3 million) and is now on equal footing with the seven other political groups in the Parliament. This new status means, Bulgarian MEP Dimitar Stoyanov (left), a member of the ITS group, told The Independent, a British daily, that "We will be able to table amendments, we will have longer speaking time in the plenary sessions, and, eventually, we will win chairman, or deputy chairman, positions on committees."

Volen_siderov Stoyanov is from Bulgaria's neo-fascist Ataka (Attack) party, whose leader, Volen Siderov (left), last February called for capital punishment for homosexuality.

Five of the new Romanian MEPs are from the neo-fascist Romania Mare (Greater Romania) party led by the demVadim_tudoragogue Vadim Tudor (right)--who, in September 2005, was disciplined by Romania's National Council for Combating Discrimination for having said on television, "Homosexuals are an aberration of nature, and they shouldn't mess with me because I'm going to impale them on wooden stakes and they might like it."

This sort of violent anti-gay rhetoric is typical of both these Bulgarian and Romanian neo-fascist parties, whose stock-in-trade is bashing homosexuals, Jews, and other ethnic minorities, including the Roma (typically called Gypsies in the U.S.) and Hungarians.

Le_pen_gollnisch Elected this past weekend as president of the new ITS group was French MEP Bruno Gollnisch, the number two man in neo-fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National party and Le Pen's designated dauphin as party leader. Gollnisch, who calls homosexuals "degenerate" and "sick" and equates gay sexuality with pedophilia, crusaded in the most vile terms against France's civil unions law (known as the PACS), and has called the anti-racism movement "mental AIDS." (Photo above left, Le Pen, with Gollnisch on the right)

The anti-Semitic Gollnisch is currently on trial under a French hate-speech law banning Holocaust denial, for having questioned the existence of the Nazi gas chambers in the World War II German death camps, statements which also got him suspended for five years from his post as a professor of law at the University of Lyon.

Other new extreme-right deputies from Bulgaria and Romania have reinforced the ultra-nationalist Union of a Europe of Nations (UEN) group in the Europarliament,Europarliament  which opposes the European Union and will now have 44 members, making it larger than the Green group, with only 40. The UEN includes 20 deputies from the three gay-hating parties that rule Poland in a coalition government--the Law and Justice Party of homophobic Polish President Lech Kaczynski, the right-wing Catholic and anti-Semitic League of Polish Families party, and the agrarian nationalist Self-Defense party. (Above right, the huge Europarliament building at Strasbourg)

At the same time, the very gay-friendly president of the last Europarliament--Josep Borrell, from the Spanish Socialist Party of Prime Minister Jose Zapatero, leader ofHansgert_pttering  the continent's most pro-gay government-has been succeeded by Hans-Gert Pöttering (right), a highly conservative Catholic from Germany's right-wing Christian Democratic Party who has been the head of the Europarliament's conservative group, the Popular Party of Europe, or the PPE. With 277 MEPs, the PPE is the Parliament's largest bloc.

The contrast between the outgoing and incoming Parliament presidents could not be more striking. Borrell, who endorsed the International Day Rocco_buttiglione_ii_2 Against Homophobia a year before the Europarliament did so, was a frequent and vocal critic of the conservative-dominated European Commission, which makes day-to-day governing decisions for the European Union. And Borrell was a vigorous opponent of the notorious Italian homophobe Rocco Buttiglione (left), whose 2004 nomination as the EU's justice commissioner created a firestorm of controversy. Buttiglione's anti-gay and misogynist positions eventually led to his nomination being withdrawn.

"As a Spanish citizen I would not want to have as a justice minister someone whoJosep_borrell  thinks that homosexuality is a sin and who thinks that a woman should stay at home and have children under the protection of her husband," Borrell (right) declared at the time in opposition to Buttiglione.

But the new president, orthodox conservative Pöttering, who took office this week, was a fervent support of Buttiglione, and he idolizes homophobic Pope Benedict XVI, the Bavarian who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger enforced an increasingly harsh and conservative orthodoxy in the Catholic Church at the direction of John Paul II.

The Europarliament's gay politicians sound surprisingly sanguine about the body's turn right. Openly gay MEP Michael Cashman from Britain's Labour Party, who is a vigorous defender of his beleaguered prime minister, Tony Blair, and who chairs the Europarliament's Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights, dismisses the new neo-fascist ITS group as "a rag-bag of the desperate and the despicable."

Michael_cashman_3_best_2 Cashman (left) told me by telephone from Strasbourg, "We must call on the European Commission to issue a new directive against discrimination in the supply of goods and services, a directive that was promised by Commission President [José Manuel] Barroso [a former right-wing Portuguese prime minister] during the Buttiglione controversy."

And, Cashman said, "The European Commission hasn't delivered" on its promise of a "uniform, horizontal anti-discrimination law" on employment that would include sexual orientation. But he did not detail any new legislative initiatives the Intergroup would propose.

Intergroup vice-chair Sophie int' Veld (right), from the Netherlands' D-66 party,Sophie_in_t_veld_3  which has been part of that country's ruling conservative coalition, told this reporter there has been "no follow-up" on the resolution calling for education against homophobia in schools and universities which the Europarliament passed last January (see this reporter's article in Gay City News, "Europe Targets Homophobia," February 2-8, 2006). But, she said, "I frankly do not think the arrival of our Romanian and Bulgarian colleagues has changed things substantially."

But IDAHO's Tin takes a different view, saying that, given the new political situation in the Europarliament, "I think advances will be more laborious, and more rare. And that which we appeared to have won earlier will be, if not called into question, at least regularly debated and contested. We have a duty to be extremely vigilant

Posted by Direland at 11:59 PM | Permalink


These comments have been invaluable to me as is this whole site. I thank you for your comment.

Posted by: Rosie | May 9, 2007 5:40:02 AM

Please,read the book of Patrick Buchanan "The death of the West". If somebody wants to make homosex, let he makes it in his private room. However, any homosexual propaganda must be prohibited, because our European race is the extinguishing race. Europeans do not want to have children. It means caput for our race. Happy New Year!

Posted by: Peter Asevich | Feb 3, 2007 4:54:32 AM

Thanks God that there are sensible countries like Belgium and the Netherlands.

Posted by: Richard | Feb 1, 2007 12:24:17 AM

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