European Parliament Passes Resolution on EU-Azerbaijan Relations, Highlights LGBTQI+ Rights

The European Parliament has passed a resolution on EU-Azerbaijan relations, specifically emphasising the importance of human rights, including those of LGBTQI+ citizens. The resolution refers to several international conventions, including the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The resolution highlights the importance of freedom of the press, and references the joint opinion of the Venice Commission and the Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law. It also references a previous European Parliament resolution on foreign interference in democratic processes in the European Union, including disinformation.

The resolution emphasises the importance of upholding human rights, including those of LGBTQI+ citizens, and urges Azerbaijan to take measures to combat discrimination and violence against LGBTQI+ individuals. It also calls on the Azerbaijani government to release political prisoners and to cooperate fully with the European Court of Human Rights.

European Parliament also emphasises the situation regarding non-discrimination against LGBTQI+s in Azerbaijan. The resolution urges the Azerbaijani authorities to adopt anti-discrimination legislation that specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics. It also calls for civil, administrative, and/or criminal proceedings to protect people from hate speech and hate crimes.

The resolution further calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to reform criminal legislation by adding the aforementioned grounds as aggravating circumstances, and to combat violence against LGBTQI+ individuals. Additionally, it reiterates the call by PACE (the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) for the Azerbaijani authorities to investigate cases of wrongful arrest of LGBTQI+ citizens and to prevent and combat police violence against them.

The resolution condemns disinformation emanating from Azerbaijan targeting the West, specifically after the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. It notes that the narratives used against the West are similar to those used in Russian propaganda and include attacks on LGBTQI+ rights and alleged threats to traditional values.

The resolution also highlights the persistent hate speech and hate crime against LGBTQI+ citizens in Azerbaijan, as well as the country’s ranking as the worst among all Council of Europe countries in terms of legislation and policy aimed at protecting LGBTQI+ individuals, according to the ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Europe Index.

The resolution references a 2022 resolution adopted by PACE on violations of the rights of LGBTQI+s in the Southern Caucasus, which includes requests for authorities to reform legislation to address these violations.

Additionally, the resolution highlights the ongoing war in Ukraine, and references several United Nations Security Council resolutions and a ruling of the International Court of Justice. It also cited previous European Parliament resolutions on cultural heritage in Azerbaijan, the aftermath of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the implementation of the common foreign and security policy, the destruction of cultural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh, security in the Eastern Partnership area, and the humanitarian consequences of the blockade in Nagorno-Karabakh.

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