Ahead of International Day against Homophobia on 17 May, MEPs discussed atrocities against homosexual men in Chechnya.

The International Day against Homophobia is marked every 17 May to raise awareness about the importance of non- discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world. To mark the occasion, MEPs discussed on 16 May reports by independent Russian media and human rights organisations alleging atrocities against homosexual men in Chechnya. They also adopted a resolution on it on 18 May.

Representatives from the European Commission and the Council also took part in the discussion on recent reports that more than 100 men suspected of being gay have been persecuted, detained, and at least three killed in Chechnya. They also discussed how the Council's LGBTI guidelines are being implemented and what action the EU can take to stop these human rights violations.

The EU is committed to the principle of the universality of human rights and insists that cultural, traditional or religious values cannot be invoked to justify any form of discrimination, including discrimination against LGBTI people. Therefore the Council's guidelines for supporting LGBTI people's human rights, adopted in 2013, provide a checklist for assessing human rights issues in this field.

Parliament Vice-President Ulrike Lunacek said: "We're seen and respected as the continent on this planet that has achieved most and against not so easy situations: we've had very Catholic, very conservative governments in the past and still do. But we're seen as really having achieved a lot and the Parliament is the most outspoken part of that."

In the Parliament

The European Parliament has addressed the issue of LGBTI rights on numerous occasions since 1984. During the previous parliamentary term, it adopted resolutions and reports on a range of issues, including on homophobia and "homosexual propaganda"' laws, the human rights of intersex people, a specific EU strategy for LGBTI people as well as other issues.

In February 2014 MEPs adopted a resolution on a future EU roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity  and have also adopted a report on the EU and the global development framework after 2015, urging special attention need to be paid to protecting and respecting the rights of migrants and minorities, including LGBTI people and people living with HIV.