EU commissioner describes Chinese people as 'slit eyed' and jokes about 'compulsory gay marriage'

Date: 
November, 2016
Country: 
Germany

Germany's EU commissioner has been accused of racism after he described Chinese people as "slit eyed".

Speaking to businessmen in Hamburg last week, Guenther Oettinger used the term "Schlitzaugen" ("slit eyes") to describe visiting Chinese businessmen, Reuters reports.

He said the congregation consisted of "nine men, one party, and no democracy".

"All of them in suits, single-breasted, dark blue jackets," he added. "All of them had their hair combed from left to right, with black shoe polish on their hair."

In an interview with German newspaper Die Welt, Mr Oettinger defended his comments. "That was a somewhat sloppy remark that was in no way meant to be disrespectful to China," he said.

He added: "You have to see the broader context in which I made my remarks. In my speech, I wanted to warn Germany of too much self-confidence."

In his speech, Mr Oettinger also joked about gay marriage. After criticising Germany's welfare system and Chancellor Angela Merkel's liberal policies, he said "perhaps compulsory gay marriage will be introduced".

His remarks were criticised by the German Federation of Lesbians and Gays (LSVD).

LSVD spokeswoman Stefanie Schmidt said: "An EU commissioner must be able to convincingly represent the European values of non-discrimination and not put the case for racist and homophobic prejudices."