The European Parliament has issued a dire warning about the rising levels of homophobia in Crimea.

The contested region of the Crimean peninsula, which lies on the southern border of Ukraine and Russia, was considered part of Ukraine until March 2014, when it was annexed by Russia amid rising political tensions.

Both Russia and Ukraine have extremely poor records on LGBT rights, but the tense situation in Crimea has fostered homophobia further.

Pride events that were tentatively permitted under Ukraine were cancelled under Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ laws – and Crimea’s de-facto leader said of gays: “We in Crimea do not need such people.”

The politician also pledged to instil “traditional values” by forcefully breaking up any LGBT public gathering, adding: “Our police and self-defence forces will react immediately and in three minutes will explain to them what kind of sexual orientation they should stick to.”

This month the European Parliament adopted a resolution in Crimea, which states: “The European Parliament expresses its grave concern regarding the situation of LGBTI people in Crimea, which has substantially worsened following the Russian annexation, and regarding repressive action and threats by the de facto authorities and paramilitary groups.”

Slovenian MEP Tanja Fajon, Vice-President of the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, said in a statement to PinkNews: “I am deeply concerned about the situation for LGBTI people in Crimea. With homophobic rhetoric coming from the highest levels, and violence going completely unpunished, it is no wonder that many see no other option than leaving the peninsula.”

“As an occupying power, Russia has a responsibility to ensure the safety of the whole population, including LGBTI people. I call on the EU Member States, the European Commission and the Council of Europe to maintain pressure on Russian authorities.”

Italian MEP Fabio-Massimo Castaldo, also Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup, added: “The Parliament has emphasized the importance of ensuring the human rights of the whole population, including LGBTI people.”