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European Parliament ‘deeply concerned’ over situation of LGBTIs in Azerbaijan

European Parliament ‘deeply concerned’ over situation of LGBTIs in Azerbaijan

Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012.

The European Parliament has condemned the ‘intimidation and oppression’ of LGBTIs in Azerbaijan, calling on its government to undertake human rights reforms the plenum called long overdue.

In a resolution, adopted on Thursday (10 September), the Parliament criticized the overall status of human rights in the country, which have been deteriorating for the last years.

US-based NGO Freedom House considers the Azerbaijani press to be ‘not free’, with the internet classified as ‘partially free’; in 2006, peaceful demonstrations were banned and the government recently introduced higher fines and longer prison sentences for those organizing or attending public assemblies.

The resolution also demanded the immediate release of a number of imprisoned journalists and activists, in accordance with a decision made by the European Court of Human Rights.

Azerbaijan legalized homosexuality in 2000, but LGBTIs still face oppression and intimidation, leading some activist to flee the country; over the past 12 months, at least three LGBTIs have been killed with trans- or homophobic motives.

The Parliament said it was ‘deeply concerned’ by the situation of LGBTI people in the country and ‘sharply condemned the political hate speech directed at LGBTIs from the highest circles’.

Human rights activists fighting for LGBTI equality should also neither be obstructed in their work not intimated, the politicians insisted.

‘It is time that the government stops persecuting those with whom it should be cooperating to create a better and respectful country,’ Ulrike Lunacek, MEP and Co-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, in a statement

‘The crackdown on LGBTI civil society is part of a wider systematic crackdown on civil society, which is beyond imagination,’ said Tanja Fajon MEP, Vice-President, and Kati Piri MEP, member of the group.

‘It is time to seriously address this crackdown and we call on the High Representative, the Commission and the Council to address this at the highest possible level, including through the human rights dialogue and a stop of the negotiations on the Strategic Partnership Agreement with Azerbaijan if things do not improve.’