Secular groups plan to protest against the Commissioner-designate

Candidacy is 'certainly very bad for the image of Malta in Europe' says secularists who will protest Borg nomination.

Tonio Borg.
Tonio Borg.

The nomination of Foreign Affairs Minister Tonio Borg to replace John Dalli on the Commission has not gone down well with NGOs representing Europe's secular liberal interests, and protests are planned to coincide with his screening by the European parliament on 13 November.

Among the organisations that will participate in these protests is the European Humanist Federation, representing secular atheist and agnostic organisations across the continent. It is understood that the protests will also attract women's rights activists and other special interest groups.

Pierre Arnaud Perouty, director-general of Belgium's Centre d'Action Laïque, told MaltaToday why his organisation will be joining the initiative against Borg's appointment to the Commission.

"This candidacy is certainly very bad for the image of Malta in Europe," he said on Friday. "Not only did Malta fail to send a single woman to the European Parliament, pass a law to legalise divorce as late as 2011, and still has the most restrictive law on abortion in Europe: it is now proposing a person with totally outdated patriarchal views on women, and a long record of homophobic positions."

Among the chief concerns identified by the protestors was Borg's decision to spearhead an aggressive campaign to entrench Malta's abortion ban in the Constitution in 2004.

"It is hardly conceivable that a person who opposed women's sexual reproductive health rights so strongly, would take command of the Health and Consumer Protection portfolio in the European Commission. It is also an ambiguous signal from the Commission, given its strong commitment to women rights and non-discrimination."

Similar objections have already been raised by political blocs represented in the European Parliament. The European Greens have declared they will not support Borg's nomination, and the Liberals are understood to share similar reservations.

With the EPP (of which Borg's PN is a member) welcoming his nomination, this leaves the decision largely in the hands of the European Socialists... whose president, Hannes Swoboda, has already publicly aired misgivings.

"We will look carefully into the qualifications of [Dalli's] proposed successor. In view of some comments from Mr Borg on the rights of homosexuals we intend to question him closely on whether his views are compatible with Europe's fundamental values on civil liberties and non-discrimination."

Significantly, Swoboda cited the former failed candidacy of Italian rightwing politician Rocco Buttiglione, whose similar outspoken views on homosexual rights had cost him the Commissionership.

"There has already been one case where the European Parliament rejected a candidate who could not convince MEPS of his readiness to accept basic European values," Swoboda said. "We do not need a second Rocco Buttiglione."

@ maltesecross Secular does not mean anti-religious. Get your facts straight before spewing such nonsense. If you cherish your religion, you should be the first to support secularism. Only a secular State can guarantee protection for ALL belief systems, including yours.
God forbid if we have a 100% secular commission as it will be biased and anti religious. If the gays have rights, they also have obligations. Christians also have rights to defend their belief and values and it would be good to be represented in the Commission.
Is gonzi simply playing for time knowing there is a good chance Tonio would not be avccepted and waste further parliament time by sending another nominee.Other than that gonzi must be most stupid politician Malta has ever seen embarassing himself and the country this way.
The baby will be killed before it is born. That will happen to Tonio Borg I'm afraid. Malta's reputation is tarnished for the second time after London's mayor comments. Prosit GonziPN. Haqqek domna.
Not looking good for Dr Borg. Perhaps he should wait until there is a vacancy as Ambassador to the Vatican. That would suit him much better.
Luke Camilleri
it's just Gonzi DILLY-DALLIying..... postponing his fate , to retain the seat of Power! Gonzi knows full well that his date with destiny is near, the date when he has to face a VOTE in Parliament , a vote which wil be CONFIRMATION THAT HE IS DICTATING and not GOVERNING without a Parliamentary Majority! Gonzi's DILLY-DALLIying is just borrowed time!