Pro-life Catholic ‘sails through’ EU Committee hearing despite opposition from leftist groups
BRUSSELS, November 14, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The pro-life Catholic Maltese Deputy Prime Minister, Tonio Borg, is one step closer today to being affirmed as the new EU Commissioner for health and consumer protection despite strong opposition from leftist groups.
The nomination of the strongly pro-life and pro-family Dr. Borg had roused the fury of secularist and abortion campaigners at the EU due to his parliamentary record of opposing divorce legislation and the expansion of abortion in Malta.
But the EU-focused news service Euractive reports that Borg “sailed through” hearings on Tuesday at the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. Borg confirmed that he would not change his stand on marriage or abortion, but said that he would continue to uphold EU treaties that say issues surrounding abortion lie firmly within the competency of member states. He said he would act as a European Commissioner, not as a Maltese politician.
Borg told MEPs on Tuesday, “I have not come here to abandon my personal views. That would be hypocritical and you would see through me immediately if I were to do that.”
He denied ever having made “anti-gay” remarks, including one that was circulated by the EU Parliament’s LGBT Intergroup in a memo condemning his candidacy. According to that memo Borg said that “one has to put up with gays”.
“I never said that. You can check the parliament transcript [in Malta],” he said.
He repeatedly pledged respect for the EU’s Charter of Fundamental rights, whose article 21 forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, saying, “I shall chart my course on the Charter of Fundamental Rights ... this is something which I cherish.”
Asked about his views on stem cell research, Tonio replied, “I will let science be my guide when making difficult decisions.”
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He reminded MEPs on the committee that he had received criticism in the past for his refusal to condemn a young woman who had travelled to the United Kingdom for an abortion. He countered the accusations of homosexualists, saying he had supported legislation to grant same-sex partners limited legal rights, and had strengthened laws prohibiting “homophobic” crimes.
Dutch Liberal deputy Sophie in ‘t Veld and Austrian Green MEP Ulrike Lunacek, however, said they would continue to oppose him. In ‘t Veld said, “We do not trust him to work for all EU citizens regardless of their gender and of their sexual orientation.”
After the hearing, one of his strongest opponents said Tonio had given sufficient reassurance. British MEP Michael Cashman, chairman of the EU parliament’s LGBT Intergroup, said Tuesday, “I do remain concerned about Tonio Borg’s track record. But given the reassurances he has given us on fundamental rights, I believe we could entrust him with the public health portfolio.”
The European Humanist Federation, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Catholics for Choice and the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) launched an aggressive negative campaign against Dr. Borg, insisting that a Catholic with pro-life views who had strongly supported traditional marriage was unsuitable to hold office at the EU. They claimed that his opposition to abortion and homosexuality were “extremist” and opposed to “European values.”
The NGO European Dignity Watch said that on the contrary, hostility to Christian values, held by “the vast majority of European citizens today” is itself “hateful and intolerant propaganda …disseminated by various NGOs who themselves hold the rather extreme views of a minority of radical secularists, abortion and LGBT advocates.”
“The message of their sabre-rattling in the lead-up to the hearing is clear: European values are not Christian values—and Christian values are incompatible with European values.”
EDW said that Dr. Borg’s academic qualifications in administrative and human rights law, and decades of experience in his country’s Justice and Home Affairs Ministries, made him an “ideal candidate”. They argued that the campaign against Dr. Borg represented “a fundamental arrogance” that holds “only views closely aligned with their own can be considered ‘truly European.’”
The Conference of Committee Chairs are scheduled to meet today and the Conference of Presidents on Thursday. The whole House will vote next week in Strasbourg on a non-binding resolution whether to uphold Dr. Borg’s position.