Members of the European Parliament have threatened to dissolve the European Commission after the soon-to-be commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security said homosexuality was a sin.

Rocco Buttiglione made the comment during a routine parliamentary committee hearing where he was asked about discrimination against homosexuals. Citing his Roman Catholic faith -“ he is also a close friend of the Pope -“ he added that marriage was designed to give women the right to have children and the protection of a man.

Many parliamentarians were furious that such discriminatory views came from a man meant to be defending sexual equality, Time reported. They demanded the commission’s president-designate, Jos?anuel Dur?Barroso, sack Buttiglione or move him to another post.

Barroso refused to replace him but promised to spread responsibility for anti-discrimination enforcement among several commissioners.

In a letter of regret sent to Barroso last week, Buttiglione said, In politics, the only relevant issue is: Are you in favour of or against discrimination? -¦ I am against any kind of discrimination, [which means] defending those who hold views different from your own.

But Buttiglione’s opponents don’t think he can separate his religious convictions from his public service duties.

Unless a compromise can be found or one side backs down, commentators said this could scuttle the 25-member European Commission before it takes office on 1 November. The parliament and the commission are both European Union institutions, and while the parliament cannot turn down individual commissioners it can reject the commission as a whole.

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