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Polish MEP suspended without pay for saying women are less intelligent than men

The European Parliament has suspended a Polish politician for 10 days after he said during a debate that women should earn less than men because they are 'weaker, smaller and less intelligent'

14 March 2017, 2:51pm
Janusz Korwin-Mikke caused uproar when he launched a sexist tirade during a 1 March debate in the parliament on the gender wage gap
Janusz Korwin-Mikke caused uproar when he launched a sexist tirade during a 1 March debate in the parliament on the gender wage gap
The European Parliament has suspended a far-right Polish MEP for 10 days after he said during a debate that women should earn less than men because they are “weaker, smaller and less intelligent”.

Janusz Korwin-Mikke caused uproar when he launched a sexist tirade during a 1 March debate in the parliament on the gender wage gap.

In response, EP President Antonio Tajani said he was imposing unprecedented penalties: Korwin-Mikke will lose his daily subsistence allowance for 30 days, a total of €9,180 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 socialist MEP, Iratxe García-Perez.

In footage of the original remark, Garcia Perez can be seen grimacing at Korwin-Mikke’s claim that there are no women among the world's top 100 chess players, responding: “According to what you're saying and your theory I wouldn't have the right to be here as a member of parliament.

“I know you're very upset and very concerned about the fact we women can represent citizens on an equal footing with you. I think I need to defend European women against 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.

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.