Tory MEPs shame leader over women and gay rights
Conservatives in European Parliament consistently vote against resolutions to promote equality
David Cameron faced fresh embarrassment over Europe last night, after it emerged that Conservative MEPs have consistently voted against a string of measures to protect women's rights.
Analysis of the record of 25 Tory members of the European Parliament this year shows they voted against, or abstained, eight times on issues relating to sexual equality, family-friendly working hours, maternity leave and reproductive health – often in clear defiance of official Conservative Party policy.
The MEPs also failed to back an EU resolution expressing concern about homophobic attacks in Croatia, which is seeking EU membership.
The disclosures come amid new pressure from Brussels on the Conservative leader after the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, called for a new EU treaty on closer European economic co-operation – a move that would force a Tory government to hold a referendum on Europe within months of taking office.
To the annoyance of Eurosceptics in his party, Mr Cameron ruled out a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty last year, but promised a nationwide vote on future treaties. Labour has also committed to a referendum on a new treaty. Ms Merkel's intervention on Friday means that the difficult issue of Europe will loom sooner than anticipated for Mr Cameron, should he win the election.
The Tory leader has found the stance of his MEPs, many of them hardline Eurosceptics, including the controversial critic of the NHS Daniel Hannan, difficult to balance with his promises of a socially progressive Conservative government.
Last week, TV footage emerged of Mr Cameron's interview with Gay Times in which he appeared flustered over separate votes by Tory MEPs and Tory peers opposing gay rights.
Now the IoS can reveal details of eight votes on women's rights and a further vote on homophobia in the European Parliament last month, compiled by the Liberal Democrats.
On 25 February, 22 out of 25 Tory MEPs voted against a resolution calling for the EU to become a party to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. The remaining three did not vote.
On 10 February, seven measures on a report on equality for women in the EU saw the majority of Tory MEPs voting against or abstaining. The measures included giving better protection to women on maternity leave, backing women's easy access to contraception and abortion, and making men more aware of their responsibilities for sexual and reproductive health.
Also on 10 February, one Tory MEP opposed, with 16 abstaining, a motion calling on the Croatian government to do more to crack down on homophobic attacks in the country. No Tory MEPs voted in favour.
Fiona Hall, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Europe, said: "For the Tories to suggest that it is in women's interests to vote for them is downright cheek. We have looked at the voting record of Conservative MEPs and one thing is very clear: the Conservatives are a danger to women."
A spokesman for Tory MEPs said: "We have repeatedly made it clear in the European Parliament that we fully support equality. However, we believe that it should be for sovereign nation states to legislate on social issues in their own countries, and not the EU.
"Matters relating to reproductive rights are conscience issues and therefore members are given a free vote."
- 1 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public can visit police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Vagina canoe artist facing two years in jail defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
- 5 The Queen’s speech 2014: Recap and Twitter reaction to Game of Thrones reference
PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
Antonio Martin shooting: Black teenager may have tried to ambush patrolman, says police officer's lawyer
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
Boxing Day snowfall could push even more bargain-hunters online for Christmas sales
The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public can visit police’s grisly crime museum
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...
£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...