Janusz Korwin-Mikke, a member of the European Parliament (and a renowned anti-LGBT campaigner) from Poland, has claimed that women are too ‘small and weak’ for equal pay.
Addressing his fellow MEPs during a debate on the gender pay gap, he said: “Of course women must earn less than men, because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent, and they must earn less.
“That is all.”
His misogynistic comments were not – somewhat unsurprisingly – well received by others in the chamber.
And Iratxe Garcia Perez, a Socialist MEP from Spain, wasted no time in leaping to her feet to respond to his remarks.
“Look, according to your theory, I should not have the right to be here, as a member of this parliament,” she said. “And I know it hurts you, I know it hurts and worries you, that today women can sit in this house and represent European citizens with the same rights as you.
“[But] I am here to defend all European women from men like you.”
Perez was not alone in her disgust; MEP for Malta Roberta Metsola criticised the remark as not only offensive to women, but as “betraying the values of the entire EU.”
Another Malta MEP, Miriam Dalli, described Korwin-Mikke’s comments as “detrimental to society as a whole.”
Antonio Tajani, the parliament’s president, has launched an investigation into Korwin-Mikke’s comments; it is thought that his remarks could have broken the parliament’s rules, which ban any defamatory, racist, or xenophobic language or behaviour.
According to the BBC, Rule 11 of the Rules of Procedure says MEPs' conduct “shall be characterised by mutual respect” and they “shall not resort to defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behaviour in parliamentary debates”.
If Korwin-Mikke is found guilty for his “shameful” comments, he could face anything from a reprimand to a ban and a temporary suspension.
It is not the first time that the 72-year-old politician – whose party is strongly opposed to same-sex marriage – has made headlines for making disparaging remarks about women.
In an interview with The Observer, he claimed that men exercise control over women through contact with their semen – and used this as an example as to why women should be denied the right to vote.
The KNP leader said: “Semen probably is not wasted, because nature usually makes use of the material it has, and there is a hypothesis that the attitudes of men are passed to women by way of the semen which penetrates the tissue.
“There is a very strong argument for this hypothesis, that now when [oral] contraceptives are much more in use, the women become much more independent.”
He went on to claim that women “want to be led by men”.
Korwin-Mikke was also criticised by his colleagues – and, ultimately, suspended for 10 days from parliamentary activities after giving a speech on migrants, during which he described them as “human garbage,” unwilling to work and only interested in receiving welfare.
He was fined €3062 (approximately £2600) for his remarks at that time.
Images: Rex Pictures