The Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights welcomed news that the European Commission intends to mark the 10th October of every year as the European Day Against the Death Penalty.

Several nations retain the death sentence as punishment for homosexuality.

In July 2005 two gay teenagers were publicly executed in Iran for the “crime of homosexuality.”

According to Iranian human rights campaigners, over 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979

The draft proposal submitted by the Commission yesterday aims to support the World Day against the Death Penalty.

If the draft is adopted by the Council and the European Parliament, the European Day will be organised jointly with the Council of Europe.

The Intergroup welcomed the Commission’s leadership on the issue.

“Marking the 10th October of every year as a European Day Against the Death Penalty would do much to reaffirm the shared European values on this issue,” Michael Cashman, MEP for the West Midlands, explained.

“Within the LGBT community, we are all too aware of the irreversible nature of this punishment.

“Too many countries still penalise same-sex sexual relations, and many of them have in place provisions whereby LGBT people risk the death penalty for simply being who they are.”

“Still too many countries with which the European Union maintains diplomatic and commercial links are engaging in this outrageous violation of basic human rights,” MEP Raul Romeva added.

“I welcome this initiative to focus on the continuing struggle to abolish the death penalty. I also hope the initiative will be followed up with open and frank talks led by the Commission and the Council to seek abolition of the death penalty from countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, and many others who still penalise same-sex sexual relations with the death penalty.”