BRUSSELS, November 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A consortium of homosexualist, secular humanist and abortion groups are campaigning against the appointment of the Maltese Dr. Tonio Borg as the new EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner. The objection, they say, is nothing more than that Dr. Borg is a Catholic, with “staunchly conservative and outdated” views on homosexuality, divorce and abortion.
The campaign has been organised, according to sources at the EU Parliament, by the European Humanist Federation, the International Lesbian and Gay Association, ILGA - Europe, and International Planned Parenthood Federation.
The situation is drawing comparisons to when a group of far-left activists blocked the appointment of Italian politician Rocco Buttiglione as Italy’s representative at the European Parliament in 2004. At the time, Italian Justice Minister Roberto Castelli accused Buttiglione’s opponents as “fundamentalist” anti-Christians.
“This decision shows the real face of Europe,” Castelli said, “a face which we don’t like. It’s fundamentalist, which is absolutely not on.”
A document released by the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights admits that a Commissioner’s personal religious beliefs are not “topics of EU competence.” However, they maintain that Borg’s “issues of conscience” would “prevent him from being an impartial commissioner.”
The group say they fear that since “all 27 Commissioners are always consulted before Commission proposals are made public; this would give him considerable influence across EU competences”. They particularly objected to his support for the pro-life NGO Gift of Life, whose mission includes, “making it harder for abortion to ever be legalised in Malta.”
The group complains that Borg once told a pro-life conference “that the Maltese constitution should define life as beginning from conception, defining any abortion as murder.” They objected to Borg reiterating the findings of human embryologists that “an embryo starts from fertilisation. There is no pre-embryo” … “meaning any fertilised egg is a full human embryo and must be legally protected as a person.”
They denied that their opposition to Borg’s candidacy is “‘anti-Christian’, ‘christianophobic’, or against religion,” saying he is “entitled to his own views” but maintain that he must not hold public office because of them.
“Dr. Borg is entitled to his own views (religious or not), but using such extreme views to define law and policy, and making it a case of conscience above any questioning, would likely prevent him from being a fair-minded commissioner for public health.”
Patrick Buckley, the representative at the European Parliament for the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said, “In other words, according to these vocal lobby groups, simply holding Christian beliefs on social issues is a sign of ‘extremism’.”
He added, “This would have certainly surprised the ‘founding fathers’ of European integration, many of whom were devout Christians who based the European project on Christian principles such as solidarity, subsidiarity and human dignity.”
Borg is the Deputy Prime Minister of Malta who currently also serves as the country’s Foreign Minister. He practiced law for fifteen years before entering politics, specialising in human rights cases, and served on the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture from 1990 to 1995. While serving as a backbencher, Borg was also a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from 1992 to 1995 and as a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee between the European and Maltese parliaments for the same period.
Despite these credentials, his pro-life and pro-family positions, which reflect the opinion of many in Europe, have prompted leftist MEPs to brand him a “not a commissioner but a dinosaur.”
Swedish MEP Cecilia Wikström is a member of the Liberal People’s Party and sits on the Committee on Legal Affairs for the European Parliament. She told Swedish media, “This is about human rights, about allowing people to choose how they want to live their lives.”
“He is against divorce (and) women’s rights in general. He is against letting women choose freely how they want to live their lives, for example on abortion. And he’s totally against sexual and reproductive health and rights,” she said. “I plan to take the lead so we can vote against him. We cannot accept him. This is not a commissioner for the 21st century.”
Wikström, who is also a vicar of the Lutheran Church of Sweden, has posted the interview to YouTube, in which she says Borg’s candidacy is a “big, fat, splendid scandal that they are sending us. Not a commissioner but a dinosaur.”
The European Parliament gives its approval of the Commissioner-designate following a public hearing by the competent parliamentary committees, scheduled for November 13th.
The Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe issued a statement denouncing the campaign against Dr. Borg, saying it is a brazen attack on fundamental rights of freedom of expression and religious belief.
“Fundamental rights such as freedom of conscience, belief and opinion are put at stake,” the group said, “as the personal values of Mr. Borg are depicted as incompatible with the European values.
“However, the fundamental rights are the core values on which the European Union is founded and apply to all citizens, including European Commissioners.”
“Atheist secularists, gay and pro-abortion lobbies,” the group continued, “are aggressively intolerant and discriminating with regard to politicians who promote the respect of life from conception, marriage between a man and a woman and the family based on this marriage.”
Despite the claims of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, however, the EU Commissioner on health and consumer policy has no oversight on abortion or the definition of marriage and family, which are an exclusively national competency.
Like Buttiglione, Borg has agreed to abide by the Code of Conduct for Commissioners that says they “are expected to defend and support the decisions taken by the College” and are not allowed to make statements supporting the policy of their respective political parties. “This rule is without prejudice to the right of Commissioner to express their personal opinions.”