An MEP from the UK Independence Party has been condemned by LGBT groups for questioning the European Commission on the legitimacy of funding of an LGBT rights organisation.
Godfrey Bloom was criticised by The European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT rights for asking the European Commission to justify the funding given to the International Gay and Lesbian Association, Europe.
Mr Bloom was accused by lesbian MEP, Nikki Sinclaire, of abusively calling her “queer”, which UKIP denies. The MEP wrote several questions to the European Commission which alleged that the group received funding from private donors who could “own” NGOs.
The Intergroup says this infers questions over the legitimacy of ILGA-Europe’s work towards equality for LGBT people.
As the main organisation working for LGBT rights, ILGA-Europe receives funding from several sources, the biggest being the European Commission. The organisation’s accounts are publicly available, and they are regularly audited.
A comment made by Michael Cashman, MEP, co-president of the EP LGBT Intergroup said: “Mr Bloom’s attempt to undermine European funding is unworthy of exposure. He should focus on the substantial question, which is equality and non-discrimination. But I don’t expect this from a colleague who believes women’s rights are a waste of time. Thankfully, he doesn’t represent the majority of decent British people.”
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-president of the LGBT Intergroup, commented, saying that Mr Bloom: “is a true role model for bullies around Europe.”
A similar question was asked by Konrad Szymański, a Polish MEP last month, and The European Commission is to address their questions in coming weeks.
However, a UKIP spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk today that Bloom was not homophobic but was looking out for the interests of the taxpayer.
He said: “Bloom and UKIP’s beef as a whole is we are uncomfortable with people calling themselves NGOs when they are state funded.”
UKIP’s spokesman said the gay rights group obtains 75% of its funding from the EU and the Dutch government.
He continued: “He who pays the piper calls the tune.
“IGLA-Europe is dishonest about its relationship with the EU. It’s going to be very difficult if the group wished to oppose strongly an EU policy because there would be a threat that their funds would be cut.
“To describe themselves as an NGO is false. It’s not about a policy issue, it’s about the relationship between that body and government.”
Bloom asked the Commission: “How does the Commission view the influence that wealthy individuals may exert over the NGOs they are subsidising?
“Is there a risk that persons such as George Soros could “buy” themselves one or more NGOs that are economically dependent on their donations?”
Godfrey Bloom was ejected from the European Parliament chambers in 2010 after heckling German MEP, Martin Schulz with the Nazi slogan: “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer,” to German politician, Martin Schulz.