Polish lawmaker Janusz Korwin-Mikke has come under fire for justifying paying women less because of what he called their innate inferiority. The European Parliament member is now being investigated for hate speech.
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani launched a parliamentary investigation into Korwin-Mikke on Thursday, one day after the conservative Polish lawmaker argued that women "must earn less" than men.
On Wednesday, the bow-tie wearing Korwin-Mikke elicited shouts of disbelief from other members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and unleashed a storm of media criticism and after claiming that female inferiority justified unequal pay.
"Of course women must earn less than men because they are weaker, they are smaller and they are less intelligent, they must earn less, that's all," Korwin-Mikke said in a plenary session on the topic of gender pay gap.
In his speech, the right-wing, conservative politician stated that women only reached 800th place at the Polish theoretical physics olympiad and were also absent from the top 100 chess players.
According to EU parliamentary rules, MEPs may not engage in "defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior." If convicted in the investigation, Korwin-Mikke could face a fine and temporary suspension from the representative body.
Critical tweets traded
The Polish conservative's statements rapidly drew widespread condemnation. Some progressive parliamentarians took to Twitter to lambast him for his sexist ideas:
However, Korwin-Mikke used the attacks to reiterate his belief in the unequal status of men and women.
Criticism came from beyond those in political positions, with civil groups also tweeting their support for female empowerment.
cmb/sms (dpa, AFP)