VP of Ordo Iuris will not advise the EU on LGBT. An investigation is in progress
‘Mr Zych has agreed not to participate in any work of the LGBTIQ equality strategy 2020-2025 working group in anticipation of the completion of the procedure,’ writes the European Economic and Social Committee in response to the appeal of the MEPs
The Presidency of the Diversity Europe Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) responds to an appeal by 34 MEPs in the LGBTI rights intergroup.
In a letter of 18 February 2021, the MEPs raised the alarm that the vice-president of Ordo Iuris, Tymoteusz Zych, had become a member of the EESC several months ago.
‘Ordo Iuris is an organization which has long promoted anti-LGBTI, anti-women’s rights, anti-choice and anti-gender rhetoric in Poland, not least through its close ties with the Polish government’s policies on the matter,’ they wrote.
They asked whether someone with such views should take part in giving opinions on the EU’s LGBTI strategy. And whether he would be able to work towards the achievement of Diversity Europe’s statutory objectives, including women’s and minority rights.
Zych was included in the Committee not as a member of Ordo Iuris, but as a representative of the Confederation of Non-Governmental Initiatives of the Republic of Poland, of which OI is a member. According to the MEPs, the information about IO’s membership was ‘conveniently omitted’ from the candidate’s profile.
The president and vice-president of the EESC Diversity Europe Group admit they are ‘seriously concerned’ with the information provided by the MEPs.
‘The positions expressed by the organization “Ordo Iuris” on issues regarding equal rights, especially of LGBTI people, are not in line with our values, nor with those of our Committee or the Treaties (Articles 2 and 3 of the TEU),’ write the EESC members in a letter of 24 February 2021.
But this is not the end.
Zych removed from LGBTI matters
The Diversity Europe Group’s Presidency cites the Committee’s rules of procedure. ‘The members shall ensure, in the performance of their duties, the promotion, effective protection and respect of fundamental rights and values such as human dignity, non-discrimination, tolerance, freedom, solidarity, the principle of the rule of law and gender equality’.
In response to the letter from the MEPs, the Presidency decided to open an investigation into Tymoteusz Zych. They intend:
- to request him to clarify his views on the position presented by Ordo Iuris;
- gather information regarding his publicly expressed positions on issues such as gender equality, women rights, minorities and fundamental rights.
Based on the information collected and a hearing with Mr Zych, the Presidency will make recommendations to the Group. While waiting to complete the procedure, Mr Zych will not participate in any activities related the study group on the LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025.
The members of EESC say they will also be happy to discuss the EESC’s appointment procedures with the signatories of the letter.
‘We would note that the process of nomination of EESC members (Article 302 of the TFEU) is not within our control. Governments in each member country make proposals and the Council adopts them after consulting the Commission […]. Once this process is completed, the EESC just accepts the nomination,’ they explain in their letter.
They emphasize that no institution raised any objections to Mr Zych’s nomination during the nomination procedure.
How did this happen?
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is a consultative body of the European Union, which gives opinions on legislative ideas of the EU institutions. The Committee, which has 21 members from Poland, issues an average of 175 opinions and reports every year.
Tymoteusz Zych joined the Diversity Europe Group, which includes representatives of non-governmental organizations, as a result of a complicated appointment procedure, without the required opinion from the parliamentary Commission for European Union Affairs.
In the EESC, he joined, among others, the group working on the opinion on the EU’s LGBTI strategy.
‘It turned out that it had the fewest applicants, so I was accepted. I am interested in this subject, especially in making this discussion less one-dimensional,’ commented Zych.
However, the MEPs who are active in the LGBTI Intergroup had serious doubts as to whether the ultra-conservative Ordo Iuris agenda should be represented in the EESC.
‘Should members of an organization that works against fundamental rights for LGBTI people and against gender equality be a member of bodies that play such a large role in the European institutions? Institutions that should promote and strengthen these rights? We believe this should at least be discussed,’ said MEP Terry Reintke.
Tymoteusz Zych commented on the Committee’s reaction to the letter of from the MEPs in an interview with the ‘Do Rzeczy’ weekly:
‘To my surprise, it was not ignored and I was even requested to give an explanation of my views. Such a hearing is to be held before the Group’s Presidency next week. On this basis, the Group’s Presidency wants to recommend a decision to its members on my involvement in its work. This whole procedure has no legal basis whatsoever. It is all the more astonishing because, under the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, a member of the EESC has a free mandate and is not subject to any instructions’.