BRUSSELS, Sept 13 (Reuters) - The European Union on Tuesday condemned the death sentences imposed by Iran on two women, Elham Chubdar and Zahra Sedighi Hamedani, who advocates and human rights groups say are LGBT activists and innocent of any crime.
"The EU is – as a principle – fundamentally opposed to the death penalty at all times and in all circumstances, and aims at its universal abolition," Peter Stano, the spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, said.
"The EU is also firmly opposed to all forms of criminalisation of sexual orientation and gender identity," he added.
Iran's official IRNA news agency reported on Sept. 5 that two women had been sentenced to death on charges of "corruption on earth" and human trafficking. read more
"Corruption on earth" is a term Iranian authorities use to refer to a broad range of offences, including those related to Islamic morals.
In March, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described homosexuality as part of a "moral deprivation" widespread in Western civilisation.
Stano said the EU would continue to push for human rights to be upheld in the Islamic Republic.
"As part of our bilateral engagement with Iran, we will continue to urge the Iranian authorities to guarantee the full range of fundamental rights for their citizens irrespective of their religion, belief, sexual orientation or any other status," he noted.
Western rights groups have often criticised Iran for its treatment of LGBT issues. Under Iran's legal system, homosexual acts can be punished by the death penalty.