Poles march for equality as new government takes office

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LGBT rights activists were joined by politicians from green and left-wing parties on the annual Equality March in Poznan, western Poland, on Saturday.

More than 300 people, carrying rainbow flags and banners, took part in the peaceful demonstration in Poland’s fifth-largest city, with only a few counter-demonstrators on hand to protest.

It was seen as a key test of the new government’s attitude to gay rights events.

In 2005 the police in Poznan detained and interrogated 65 demonstrators during the March of Equality.

This year, the fourth annual march, more than 400 police were on hand to protect the marchers.

On Friday Donald Tusk was appointed Poland’s Prime Minister under a new conservative-liberal Civic Platform (PO) government.

Gay rights activists have asked Mr Tusk to consider legalisation of civil unions, the introduction of comprehensive sexual education in schools and the ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

While many predicted that the new Prime Minister would usher in an era of reform, others remain cautious but hopeful.

Although the PO is looking to repair ties with the European Union, it takes a similarly conservative position to the former ruling party, the right-wing Law and Justice, on many issues such as abortion and gay rights.

Former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his twin brother, Lech Kaczynski, the current President, caused controversy within the LGBT community for their anti-gay stance.

The pair banned several gay pride marches in the country and on a state visit to Ireland at the beginning of this year Lech Kaczynski said that the promotion of homosexuality would lead to the eventual destruction of the human race.