Written reply from Josep Borrell Fontelles – High Representative/Vice-President of the European Commission to LGBTI Integroup letter on LGBTQ rights violations in Azerbaijan

Brussels 17th July 2023

Brussels, 30/06/2023
A(2023)3953254 – 6059547

To all MEPs co-signatory to the letter on the situation of LGBTQI+ Human Rights Defenders detained in Azerbaijan

Dear Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

Thank you for your letter of 7 June 2023 in which you denounce the arrest of LGBTQI+ Human Rights Defenders in Baku.

I am aware of the worrying situation you reported and I share your concerns. Allow me to reassure you that my services are following the developments closely. The EU Delegation in Baku has been and remains in contact with the individuals concerned and with organisations representing the LGBTQI+ community in Azerbaijan.

We highly value these contacts, which allow us to better understand the concerns and needs of Azerbaijani LGBTQI+ community and inform them about the support the EU could provide. The EU remains committed to promoting respect, protection and fulfilment of the rights of LGBTQI+ persons and deplores the hatred and violence that the LGBTQI+ community continues to face in many countries, including Azerbaijan. In this regard, we strongly encourage Azerbaijan to prevent and eliminate discrimination, violence and social exclusion on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, including through our regular EU-Azerbaijan Human Rights Dialogue.

In line with the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024, the EU condemns discriminatory laws, policies and practices, including the use of torture or ill-treatment. The EU has adopted a LGBTQI Equality Strategy1 and is among the top donors worldwide to support civil society organisations working to improve the situation of LGBTQI+ communities, including LGBTQI+ rights defenders.

We thank you for your critical engagement to tackle the issue of violence on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, and I look forward to our continued cooperation, including in promoting the respect of human rights.

Yours faithfully,
Josep Borrell Fontelles

1 https://commission.europa.eu/strategy-and-policy/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/lesbian-gay-bi-trans-and-intersex-equality/lgbtiq-equality-strategy-2020-2025_en Electronically signed on 29/06/2023 18:32 (UTC+02) in accordance with Article 11 of Commission Decision (EU) 2021/2121
Ref. Ares(2023)4534648 – 30/06/2023