Conservative MEP: We opposed EU equality strategy because it’s ‘social engineering’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A Conservative MEP has said her party voted against a raft of LGBT equality measures in Europe because they consider it “patronising” and “social engineering”.

The European Parliament this week voted this week on an equalities report, titled the ‘EU strategy for equality between women and men post 2015′, setting out a number of recommendations on equalities issues including a push on LGBT rights.

Conservative and UKIP MEPs opposed the report, and broadly voted against a raft of amendments on LGBT rights – including calls for adoption for a separate ‘LGBTI roadmap’, as well as a section on same-sex parenting, recognition of people’s gender, and calls for consistent sex education programmes in schools.

The overall motion passed by a vote of 341-281, despite the opposition of most MEPs from the two main UK parties.

However, after condemnation from Labour and Lib Dem MEPs, Conservative MEP Julie Girling has branded the report “patronising”.

In a statement to PinkNews, she said: “Nobody disagrees with equality, but this is patronising to women and pushes Europe’s powers into areas where they should not be allowed.”

“We know what fairness is without being sent a definition from Brussels.

“It is all about equality of opportunity, access to education and training, protection from violence and exploitation – not a socialist dreamland of increased trade union membership and benefits for all.”

The party raised issue with parts of the report that called to “strengthen and enforce collective bargaining for women’s contracts in the workplace” – but the statement fails to explain why it voted specifically against the LGBT rights portions.

Mrs Girling continued: “The whole report is steeped in an outdated, sociology-driven misconception of equality issues that comes straight from the 1960s. The world has moved on but many MEPs, especially those from the Left, have not.

“The real problem of this obsession with social engineering is that is overlooks the real attacks on equality stemming from trafficking, sexual exploitation and domestic violence.”

Labour MEP Seb Dance told PinkNews previously: “People in the UK need to be aware how David Cameron’s MEPs act in Brussels.

“He might have pink washed his governments’ reputation but today’s votes demonstrate ably that just below the surface the Nasty Party is alive and well.

“Not only are they voting against LGBTI rights, but against abortion rights & women’s rights in general. It’s a disgrace.”

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder told PinkNews: “There is widespread evidence that British couples are frequently discriminated against while on holiday in other EU countries.

“But yet again the Tories and UKIP have failed to stand up for EU legislation that protects LGBT people from discrimination.

“I will continue fighting for an EU LGBTI roadmap that will help combat homophobia and discrimination across Europe.”