EU head Jean-Claude Juncker slams commissioner over ‘shocking’ gay marriage joke

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has condemned a gay joke made by an EU commissioner.

Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, made a string of jokes in a speech to a Hamburg business meeting, including jokes about Chinese people and gay marriage.

Mr Oettinger, a member of Angela Merkel’s right-wing CDU, was filmed apparently mocking Germany’s “liberal” attitude, saying: “The German agenda has mandatory pensions, retirement as 63, child care allowance, the silly Autobahn toll that will never be introduced… after that, perhaps the obligatory homosexual marriage will be introduced! The German agenda does not fulfil my expectations of German responsibility at all.”

Same-sex marriage continues to be banned in Germany.

Speaking in an interview with Belgium’s Le Soir, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker revealed he had ordered Oettinger to issue an apology.

Juncker said: “A Commissioner cannot hold such views. I told him he had to apologise to those who could have felt targeted.

“I was particularly shocked by what he said on the subject of homosexuals.

“I sincerely think these comments did not convey his thoughts. He is a liberal man on social issues, and so I was surprised.”

Juncker also defended himself from criticism for failing to intervene in the row sooner, claiming he had been on holiday and told Oettinger to apologise shortly after finding out about the comments.

He said: “I couldn’t immediately turn my attention to this Oettinger’s clumsiness.

“Maybe I waited too long before saying my thoughts on the ethics. The important thing is that I have drawn lessons from it for myself.”