WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's education minister said on Wednesday a march held in support of equal rights for LGBT people was an "insult to public morality" and questioned whether participants were normal, prompting angry protests from the opposition.
Thousands joined last Saturday's march through central Warsaw to call for an end to discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, amid what campaigners say is an increasingly hostile atmosphere as politicians and Roman Catholic clergy attack what they call "LGBT ideology".
"You've seen the pictures of the so-called Equality Parade, and that has nothing to do with equality," Przemyslaw Czarnek said on state-run news channel TVP Info.
"You saw people dressed bizarrely, a man dressed like a woman, are they normal people in your opinion?"
He later clarified his remarks, saying he had meant their behaviour, not the participants themselves, were not normal.
Czarnek also rejected the idea that "inclusive language" should be used 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."
'LANGUAGE OF HATE'
His remarks drew condemnation from the opposition.
"The only language you know is the language of hate," said Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bak, a lawmaker from the Left grouping.
"Language that leads to students, who you should be looking out for, killing themselves, self-harming," she added.
The appointment of Czarnek, a conservative lecturer at a Catholic university, drew criticism last year from some quarters, with the Chief Rabbi of Poland and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights expressing concern in a statement over his views on LGBT rights and on Polish-Jewish history.
The education ministry has recently announced planned reforms, including boosting the role of government-appointed school inspectors and changing students' reading lists to include more patriotic texts and the works of the late Polish pope, John Paul II.
Hungary, a close ally of Poland's ruling conservatives, approved last week a bill that bans the dissemination of material in schools deemed to promote homosexuality or gender change.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday the EU executive would take action against Hungary over the bill.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Gareth Jones)