Maria Walsh, MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament's LGBTI Rights Intergroup, has hit out at the US Republican party's moves to "oppress" the LGBTI community, criticizing the policy moves as deeply concerning and a "regression of equality and rights."

Fine Gael MEP Walsh, who was born in Boston and moved to Co Mayo as a child, was commenting on proposals by Republican politicians in the state of Florida to introduce controversial Parental Rights in Education legislation which some fear seeks to degrade the rights of LGBTI students by restricting what teachers can teach and discuss with regard to related issues. Such rights are under threat in other US states too. 

"The Republican political push to erode the hard-won equality and public awareness of LGBTQ rights and issues is deeply concerning," Walsh said in a statement on April 22. "Restricting the teaching or fair representation of LGBTI issues is discrimination and signals a sad regression of equality and rights in the state of Florida.

"As Vice-President of the European Parliament's LGBTI Rights Intergroup, I strongly condemn any erosion of rights and I call on the EU to do the same. The Union must always stand for equality and the dignity and rights of all, upholding our laws on equality and promoting inclusion globally," she added.

Maria Walsh MEP pictured here in 2019. (

Maria Walsh MEP pictured here in 2019. (

The Midlands North West MEP, who became the first openly gay Rose of Tralee in 2014, recently welcomed confirmation that the European Commission is triggering the rule of law mechanism in relation to Hungary, stating that those who do not respect our EU values or misuse funds must face consequences.

MEP Walsh last week questioned the EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, regarding Hungary's treatment of the LGBTI+ community over the past weeks: "Backsliding on LGBTI+ rights is becoming a serious concern and the Fidesz party is the most prominent example here in the EU", Walsh warned during a meeting of the Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee.