An American legal group associated with homophobic Christian preachers such as James Dobson has attacked a European Parliament initiative on human rights.

The Alliance Defence Fund is a leading opponent of gay marriage in the US.

It submitted a legal memo to members of the European Parliament earlier this week urging them to “vote against a resolution on social policy introduced by a communist member. ”

By contrast the European Parliament’s Intergroup on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans rights welcomed the adoption of a report on human rights in the EU.

It made a series of recommendations to member states and European institutions on homophobia and mutual recognition of same-sex partnerships.

Drafted by Italian MEP Giusto Catania, it was approved yesterday by 401 votes in favour, 220 against and 67 abstentions.

The Parliament has also recommended a study on the situation of trans people in the member states and candidate countries, with regard to the risk of harassment and violence.

The report called on the European Commission to propose legislation which would introduce criminal offences for homophobic behaviour.

“No one should have their beliefs marginalised or criminalised simply because they don’t agree with the far left,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska.

“This resolution would undermine the right to life, damage the institution of the family, and curtail freedom of expression. It does these things in violation of treaty law and member state autonomy.

“The parliament should not allow itself to be used as a vehicle to further spread a damaging social agenda.”

Michael Cashman, President of the LGBT Intergroup and Labour MEP for the West Midlands, said  the report endorses the rights of every European citizen.

“I particularly welcome the call for mutual recognition of same-sex partnerships and marriages by EU member states alongside the call for the Commission propose legislation which guarantees the right of free movement for same-sex couples,” he said.

Raul Romeva, the Vice-President of the Intergroup for Greens/EFA, said:

“It is very important that this report deals with and urges the European Commission to make sure that Member States grant asylum to persons fleeing from persecution on the grounds of their sexual orientation. To seek asylum in the EU has lately been very problematic for many gay people.”

Vice-President of the Intergroup for ALDE Sophie in’t Veld said:

“All citizens are equally entitled to protection by the EU against discrimination, intolerance and violence. Political and religious leaders must use their influence on public opinion responsibly, and refrain from statements that may incite to hatred and violence.”