María Elósegui Itxaso describes herself as “atypical.” On Tuesday, she became the Spanish female judge to be appointed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Hours later, her homophoc attitudes came to light.
The 60-year- has a long resume. She has a ate in Law and Philosophy. She is a visiting professor at universities in Canada and the United States. She has collaborated on legislative projects with the Spanish Socialist Py (PSOE), the Aragon Py and the ruling Popular Py. And, among other things, she has ed for five years on the European commission against racism.
Question. You are the Spanish woman to be appointed as a judge on the ECHR despite having the lowest chances. Do you feel like a token choice?
Answer. No, although it wouldn’t bother me if I was. I normally have a better resume than the men I compete against. I have reached the same level, not with equally good but rather double the experience. That’s why I don’t mind if they say this is affirmative action for equal merit and I have no fear of them saying I have been given the role because I am a woman.
I don’t believe I have said the quotes that are attributed to me. They have twisted my words
Q. How did you go from being the candidate with the least chance to the one who was chosen?
A. I don’t have details or privileged information about how the appointment process took place. I was not put forward on an equal ing because of the question of influence, but I am already known in the parliamentary embly. I have been ing there and these things are shown by ing. The jurists have seen me . They have read my CV and they not let themselves be ried away by cliches or stereotypes. I think that it what has happened. I don’t know if I will ever know who voted for me.
Q. What do you think you can bring to the court?
A. My sensitivity to the struggle for human rights, not only from a theoretic and academic point of view, but also by trying to contribute to social changes with skill – without getting involved in political or social activism but instead contributing to the equality law or fighting for month-long paternity leave, for example. Or on issues relating to stopping racial discrimination. I have ed a lot on immigration issues and those concerning regional, cultural and ethnic minorities. I am in touch with diversity. I have ed with people from different cultures and religions and I can share this sensitivity. It’s not just an academic issue.
Q. This is a commission against intolerance, but there are quotes from your that express some very sharp opinions, for instance when you say that homouality is an illness.
A. I have not ed specifically on homouality but I have on transuality. These are things that must be studied rigorously, you have to look at what science and medicine is saying on the matter. Even within the community, there were different positions on the -change law. Some agreed with the demand for an irreversible surgery and wanted Social Security to cover the cost of it, and others supported transition but not irreversible gender reignment surgery. I studied the medical consequences and positioned myself more with those against an irreversible operation. I did say that and now it can be manipulated. You have to the entire film. I don’t believe I have said the quotes that are attributed to me. They have twisted my words.
Q. But do you believe homouality is an illness?
A. No, I don’t think homouality is a source of illness. I think the origins of homouality are being investigated and there are many theories. But none I think that has been proven. There are also different positions within the community. People make choices in their lives and this is one more choice.
Q. You have also said you are “against ideology.”
A. I couldn’t have said that because I don’t use the term ideology. There are various anthropological positions and there always will be. It is a question of anthropology not ideology, it is a life philosophy.
Q. But do you believe people have a common “life philosophy”?
A. Some believe that is a cultural construct that can be built and that nothing before conditions us, no conditioning before ology. That is one theory. How much comes from nature and how much from culture. Some say it is genetic and others say it is a choice. They do not have just one theory and that is normal. There is an evolution, a debate and things that are not agreed on.
People make choices in their lives and homouality is one choice more
Q. It’s known there are different theories, but what do you think? Your beliefs could now be reflected in the court resolutions.
A. My anthropological theory is irrelet because I have to apply European Convention and the current norm independently of what I think. As a judge, I have to apply the law, I can’t apply theories. There is no danger, I cannot be ased, I have to apply what there is, whether I like it or not. I can’t discriminate against anybody because of their ual orientation or gender orientation. The should rest easy.
Q. Are you in favor of marriage?
A. That’s a compromising question. It’s not about being in favor or against. I am not going to answer. I am not going to give a or white answer. As a judge, I have to respect the law. I don’t agree with judicial activism and I have criticized rulings for that.
Q. But you have already said you are against marriage.
A. You would have to look at what I have said.
Q. There is no reference to you coming out in support.
A. I will have to apply the law independently of whether I like it. It is not a question of taste and opinions. The people may not agree but I think it doesn’t matter.
Q. You don’t think beliefs influence the application of the law? The law has to be interpreted.
A. There is some margin for interpretation but there are also cornerstones in law that do not leave any room for doubt. A judge cannot distort the law to apply it in line with their peral opinions. We must not perform judicial activism.
Q. Do you belong to Opus Dei and has the organization has lobed in your favor?
I will have to apply the law independently of whether I like it or not
A. These are peral questions. A per can have values and convictions and this does not mean they are going to be less dcratic.
Q. You have ed a lot on equality issues. In what area is inequality the worst?
A. In e and in the . Women take on more hours and have less time for their profession and leisure.
Q. That may be the most widespread issue but what is the worse?
A. Indirect discrimination and the failure to see the merits of women. This is not because men have superior genes, it is not genetic or ological but cultural.
Q. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
A. I would have to say I do but I am not against men.
English version by Melissa Kit.
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