Polish MEP suspended for "offending all women"

Janusz Korwin-Mikke claimed that women "must earn less than men because they are weaker, smaller and less intelligent"

Polish MEP suspended for "offending all women"

File photo, MEP Janusz Korwin Mikke, 15-09-2015. Image: Wiktor Dabkowski/DPA/PA Images

The European Parliament has suspended a Polish politician after he claimed that women "must earn less than men because they are weaker, smaller and less intelligent."

Janusz Korwin-Mikke heads the right-wing KORWiN party – which won just 5% of the vote in Poland’s last parliamentary election.

This morning, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani told members gathering in Strasbourg that the 74-year-old will be suspended from the European Parliament for 10 days and will lose his lawmakers' daily subsistence allowance for 30 days.

He has also been banned from representing the legislature for a year - meaning he will not be able to participate in parliamentary delegations.

"I will not tolerate such behaviour, in particular when it comes from someone who is expected to discharge his duties as a representative of the peoples of Europe with due dignity," Tajani told the meeting. "By offending all women, [Korwin-Mikke] displayed contempt for our most fundamental values."

The European Parliament characterized the sanctions against Korwin-Mikke as being "unprecedented in severity."

Mr Korwin-Mikke was found to be in breach of Rule 11 of the Parliamentary rules of procedure which dictates that MEPs “shall not resort to defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behaviour in parliamentary debates."

Two days after his original outburst, Mr Korwin-Mikke doubled down on the comments during a visit to the Polish parliament in Warsaw.  

Responding to a challenge by female lawmakers he called it a "20th century stereotype that women have the same intellectual potential as men," claiming the idea "must be destroyed because it is not true."

Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, from the Polish Modern party, had accused him of offending women and called him "a disgrace.”

"There are more women than men in Poland, we are better educated and I will not let you offend Polish women, European women and women all over the world,” she said. 

It is not the first time he has gained attention by making outrageous statements – in 2015, he raised his arm in a Nazi salute in the European Parliament and compared the EU to the Third Reich.