European Parliament members refused to approve Rocco Buttiglione’s candidacy for the European Union as Commissioner for Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs because of his statements against homosexuals and single mothers, according to the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. His testimony during European Parliament assessment hearings included reference to homosexual activity as a “sin” and to the role of marriage as “allow(ing) women to have children and to have the protection of a male.” These comments led Parliament members to block him from all other positions as well. This is the first time that a parliamentary committee has rejected a nominee to the Commission, according to Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC).
CFFC describe Buttiglione, “one of the closest friends and counselors to the Pope,” as having a long history of “supporting very conservative positions on HIV/AIDS, women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, homosexual rights, and reproductive rights.” In 2001, according to CFFC, he called for a ban on artificial insemination and started a campaign to outlaw abortion in Italy. He was also quoted as calling HIV/AIDS “a divine punishment for homosexuality and drug use” at a 1989 Vatican conference.
Buttiglione claims that his personal religious beliefs would not affect how he chose to shape European Union policies, despite BBC reports of his current support for the “theo-con” campaign. “Theo-con,” derived from the words theological and conservative, is a term used to describe “a conservative who believes that religion should play a major role in forming and implementing public policy,” according to the BBC. The president of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, told the BBC, “It does not seem to me that in this day and age we can have people like that in charge of justice Ð especially justice Ð who think like that.”