EU grouping expels Lithuanian MEP over homophobic remarks

Viktor Uspaskich in a 2016 file photo. [European Parliament multimedia centre]

Centrist European Parliament grouping Renew Europe on Wednesday voted to expel a Lithuanian MEP over homophobic remarks he made in a video on Facebook.

Viktor Uspaskich, a leader of the Baltic state’s populist Labour party, sparked outrage last week after footage of him calling gay or transvestite people “perverts” was published online.

The politician sent a letter to Renew leaders in the European Parliament after they demanded an explanation in which he apologised for causing an “uproar”.

But he said his comments had been taken out of context or lost in translation – and doubled down by insisting he still had the right to criticise people who “lead a perverted way of life”.

That did not cut it with his colleagues in the liberal political grouping and on Wednesday they announced they had voted to terminate his membership “with immediate effect”.

“There is no place for homophobia in the Renew Europe family,” said Dacian Ciolos, president of Renew Europe.

“Mr Uspaskich’s comments are incompatible with the values we hold dear and put himself outside of our family.”

The anger in the European Parliament erupted just six weeks after a Hungarian MEP belonging to populist Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party was caught by police breaking Belgian coronavirus restrictions at an alleged gay orgy.

That MEP, Jozsef Szajer, a fierce proponent of anti-LGBT measures favoured by Orban, resigned from the party and quit the European Parliament.

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