Bisexual Tory MP defends speaking at ‘far-right’ conference alongside some of Europe’s most ‘homophobic’ politicians
The bisexual Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski has come under fire for speaking at a conference alongside some of Europe’s most notorious far-right and anti-LGBT+ politicians.
Speakers at the National Conservatism event included Hungary’s far-right prime minister Viktor Orbán and Italy’s populist leader Matteo Salvini.
Salvini is known for his strong anti-LGBT+ stance and open opposition of same-sex marriage, while Orbán has overseen a significant increase in homophobic attacks against the LGBT+ community in Hungary.
In 2012 he brought in a new constitution which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, and in 2016 he explicitly blocked an EU agreement that would advance LGBT+ equality and tackle discrimination.
Another speaker, Ryszard Legutko, is a Polish Law and Order MEP who has described homophobia as a “totally fictitious problem”.
In an article for the Spectator before the event, Kawczynski argued that Orbán and Salvini “represent serious ideas and concerns, some of which are shared by many citizens of the UK”.
Labour’s Andrew Gwynne said it was “disgraceful” that Kawczynski chose to associate with “anti-semites, Islamophobes and homophobes” and suggested he should lose the whip as a result. He urged Boris Johnson to clarify whether Kawczynski had been given permission to attend the event.
Several leading Jewish groups, including the Board of British Deputies and the Jewish Labour Movement, also voiced their criticism and called on the Conservatives to discipline the backbencher.
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Kawczynski defended his involvement in the conference, calling his critics “hysterical”. Writing in the Spectator, he said: “The [Guardian] has suggested a Tory MP should not speak at an event ‘with far-right’ figures on the subject of nationalism. But they are wrong.
“Clearly, offence archeologists have done a thorough job in finding historic remarks from some of the participants that jar with the liberal world view.”
He added that although he doesn’t agree with all of Orbán and Salvini’s policies, it is “common sense” to listen to them.
Marie van der Zyl, president of The Board of Deputies of British Jews, rejected his defence as “specious” for the simple reason that “the MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham is not any sort of government representative” and therefore has no need to speak with Orbán and Salvini about nationalism.
“If the Conservative Party fails to discipline Mr Kawczynski, it runs the serious risk of the public assuming that they share his views on association with such people,” she told the Guardian.
PinkNews has reached out to Daniel Kawczynski for comment but had not received a response at the time of publication.