Sunday, 18 November 2012

Malta Today: LGBT-intergroup president Michael Cashman to reject Tonio Borg

British Labour MEP says he cannot endorse Tonio Borg for the European Commission.
Wednesday 14 November 2012 - 17:33 by Matthew Vella

British Labour MEP Michel Cashman at Tonio Borg's hearing.

The president of the LGBT-rights intergroup in the European Parliament said he cannot endorse Malta's foreign minister Tonio Borg for the post of Commissioner of the EU.

Michael Cashman had previously welcomed Borg's request for a bilateral meeting to discuss his previous statements on gay rights which the LGBT-rights intergroup felt barred him from being a suitable candidate for commissioner for health and consumer policy.

"I have given this a lot of thought, and given the doubts expressed to me by many - and especially by women who feel strongly about his negative track record on sexual and reproductive health rights - I've come to the conclusion that I cannot endorse Tonio Borg for the European Commission," Cashman said in a statement.

"With regard to LGBT rights, he gave us many reassurances on the blood donation of gay men and his support of future initiatives for LGBT people. But it is worrying that Mr Borg failed to support the horizontal anti-discrimination directive, which is backed by all members of the European Commission since it was proposed in 2008," he said echoing a previous statement by the Socialists & Democrats president Hannes Swoboda.

"On sexual and reproductive health rights, too many doubts still remain, and whilst he gave us reassurances that his views wouldn't cloud his judgment, many feel his previous actions don't warrant entrusting Mr Borg with the public health portfolio," Cashman said.

Earlier in the week, heartening signs that Borg would weather a 'liberal backlash' that took him to task over his conservative political views on rights for same-sex couples, came from Cashman himself, who said Borg might not deserve the fate of Rocco Buttiglione, the Italian nominee who was turned down for the post of justice commissioner.

Cashman said that in bilateral meetings held with Tonio Borg, the commissioner-designate had "given reassurances that his personal views would not affect his actions" as commissioner for health and consumer policy.

"I was pleasantly reassured that here was a senior politician taking the time and trouble to assure us that he would not be using his private and personal views by imposing them within the work that's coming to him with the commission college," Cashman told the European Voice.

Borg was reported having told Cashman that he had "evolved" on the issue of gay rights since comments he passed in the House in 2009 in which he refuted a Labour position to extend rent law reform rights to same-sex couples.

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