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Poland’s education minster Przemyslaw Czarnek has criticised people who attend marches for LGBTQ+ equality, calling them an “insult to public morality”.

On Sunday (19 June), thousands marched in Polish capital Warsaw to fight against LGBTQ+ discrimination and prejudice. Led by mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, the Equality Parade was filled with marchers and rainbow flags in protest of rising homophobia in the country.

Speaking on state-run news channel TVP Info, Czarnek remarked: “You’ve seen the pictures of the so-called Equality Parade, and that has nothing to do with equality. You saw people dressed bizarrely, a man dressed like a woman, are they normal people in your opinion?”

Later, he clarified his comments, saying he was criticising their behaviour and not the marchers themselves. Czarnek continued to hit out at LGBTQ+ progress, however, as he rejected the idea that “inclusive” language should be implemented in schools.

“In Polish schools, the Polish language is obligatory, not any language of inclusiveness,” he said. “In Polish… satisfying sexual desire in a way different from the accepted norm is called perversion and deviation.”

Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bak, a lawmaker from the Left grouping, condemned his remarks, saying: “The only language you know is the language of hate. Language that leads to students, who you should be looking out for, killing themselves, self-harming.”

In recent years, the Polish government has targeted sexual minorities and supported organisations that spread homophobia.

The infamous “LGBT-free” zones came to fruition after the country’s ruling Law and Justice Party inspired several towns in Poland to be free from “LGBT ideology” – putting vulnerable LGBTQ+ citizens at risk of discrimination, prejudice and violence.

Fifty countries from around the world subsequently signed an open letter in protest, calling for Poland to “protect all citizens from violence and discrimination and to ensure they enjoy equal opportunities.”

“To this end, and in particular to shield communities in need of protection from verbal and physical abuse and hate speech, we need to jointly work on an environment of non-discrimination, tolerance and mutual acceptance,” it reads.

“This includes in particular sectors such as education, health, social affairs, citizenship, public service and public documents.

“We pay tribute to the hard work of LGBTI and other communities in Poland and around the world, as well as the work of all those who seek to ensure human rights for LGBTI and other persons belonging to communities facing similar challenges, and to end discrimination in particular on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The letter ends by stating that “human rights are universal and everyone, including LGBTI persons, are entitled to their full enjoyment,” and that this is “something that everyone should support.”

Last year, President Joe Biden also quote-tweeted an article from ABC News, in which Ursula von der Leyen – the new head of the European commission – criticised Poland’s ruling party for their anti-LGBTQ+ approach to policy and human rights.

“Let me be clear: LGBTQ+ rights are human rights — and “LGBT-free zones” have no place in the European Union or anywhere in the world,” he wrote.

Hungary, a close ally of Poland’s ruling conservatives, recently followed in their bigoted footsteps as they banned “content promoting gender change or homosexuality” within the school curriculum

The archaic bill, which was passed last week, aims to ‘tackle’ paedophilia within the country and includes amendments banning representation of any sexual orientation, besides heterosexuality, and sex reassignment information in schools. It also applies to films and advertisements aimed at anyone under the age of 18.

Condemned by LGBTQ+ activists, the new bill arrived as Viktor Orbán’s ruling party continued to curtail the rights of LGBTQ+ citizens. In response, Budapest mayor Gergely Karacsony called it a “shameful day” and said “the opposition’s place is not in the parliament but on the streets.”

Munich City Council requested for the Allianz Arena to be lit in rainbow colours in support of LGBTQ+ rights for Germany’s Euro 2020 match against Hungary, which was supported by Munich’s mayor Dieter Reiter. The EUFA denied their request.