EU ‘Gender’ Clash at Summit in Portugal

A view of the Crystal Palace on Thursday, May 6, which will be the venue of an upcoming EU summit in Porto, Portugal. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

PORTO, Portugal (AFP) — Poland and Hungary battled on Friday to exclude the term “gender” from the final conclusions of an EU summit devoted to promoting equality and fighting poverty in Europe, diplomats said.

The fight is a recurring one in EU official circles, with the culturally conservative governments in Warsaw and Budapest seeing the term as ideologically loaded and creating space to promote rights for LGBT people.

“Poland always underlines how important legal clarity is, and that we should stick to treaty regulations,” a Polish official said on condition of anonymity.

“The Treaty of the European Union very clearly refers not to gender equality but to equality between women and men,” the official added.

In the latest version of the draft conclusions, set to be adopted on Saturday, the leaders agreed to “promote equality and fairness for every individual in our society”.

The draft, seen by AFP, adds that the EU will “work actively to close gender gaps in employment, pay and pensions”. 

This was seen as a small victory for countries that took up the fight against the eastern Europeans. 

“On the one hand, Hungary and Poland did not want the term ‘gender’, while on the other hand, for Finland, Austria and Spain, the term ‘gender equality’ was non-negotiable,” a diplomat said. 

“We finally found a compromise solution.”

Poland’s populist government has compared the struggle for LGBT equality to communism in terms of the alleged threat it poses to national values.

In Hungary, the government has sharpened its anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in recent months, with Prime Minister Viktor Orban demanding in October that the community should “leave our children alone”.

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© Agence France-Presse

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