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Babies not welcome in parliament, Danish speaker says

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Babies not welcome in parliament, Danish speaker says
Mette Abildgaard. File photo: Sofie Mathiassen/Ritzau Scanpix
09:51 CET+01:00
A Danish MP said Tuesday she was ordered to remove her infant daughter from parliament's chamber, sparking surprise in a country often hailed as a pioneer in women's rights.

"You are not welcome with your baby in the parliament's chamber," speaker Pia Kjærsgaard, an outspoken former leader of the far-right Danish People's Party, allegedly told MP Mette Abildgaard.

"I didn't ask for permission to bring her since I had previously seen another colleague bring a child into the chamber without any problems," Abildgaard, whose Conservative party is part of the ruling centre-right coalition, wrote on social media.

Abildgaard, who is in her 30s, said she found herself in an exceptional situation with her five-month-old daughter, and had never brought her into the chamber before.

But she said the infant was "in a good mood and had a pacifier in her mouth."

Kjærsgaard passed the message to an assistant, who then asked Abildgaard to remove the baby from the room.

Abildgaard handed the child to an assistant and returned to the chamber to vote.

"MPs should be in the chamber, not babies or children," insisted Kjærsgaard when questioned by news agency Ritzau.

She said clear rules would be issued on the subject.

The Scandinavian country is often held up as a champion of gender equality and women's rights, and as a child and family-centred nation with generous parental leave.

Abildgaard noted that she was entitled to a year's maternity leave with full pay, but that she had chosen to return to work.  

Her Facebook post garnered more than 600 comments within the space of a few hours.

"A chamber that represents mothers, fathers and babies ought to be open to mothers, fathers and babies," one person wrote.

In 2016, an Icelandic lawmaker made headlines after breastfeeding her infant while speaking at the podium in parliament.

And in September, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became a symbol for working mothers when she brought her baby to the UN General Assembly in New York.

READ ALSO: Here's what you should know about having a baby in Denmark

 
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