New EU justice chief defends views on 'sinful' gays

October 06, 2004

BRUSSELS — Incoming EU justice commissioner Rocco Buttiglione defended his conservative views Tuesday including labelling homosexuality a "sin," insisting they will not interfere with his political judgment.

Citing philosopher Emmanuel Kant's distinction between morality and law, the Italian official – himself a professor of philosophy – said he "may well think that homosexuality is a sin but that has no influence on the law."

"One can have a community of citizens with different moral convictions," he told a confirmation hearing at the European Parliament for the Brussels job, which he is due to take up on November 1.

Asked about gay marriage, he continued: "The family exists to allow a woman to have children and to be protected by her husband," provoking murmurs among EU deputies questioning him.

"It's not a question which is of interest to the EU, that is to do with philosophy and not politics," he added.

A native of Gallipoli in Italy's southern Pouilles region, the soft-spoken cigar-smoking Buttiglione is known for his positions close to the Vatican on abortion, artificial insemination and private schools.

"A good Catholic can be a good European. If not we would not have had great men like Konrad Adenauer, Robert Schuman or Helmut Kohl," he said.

Buttiglione, 56, was supported for the post by his centrist Christian Democratic Union. He was a long-time member of the conservative Catholic group Communion and Liberation. – Sapa-AFP

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