Poland is debating a bill that would make all material dealing with homosexuality, including educational information, illegal as way of protecting school children from "homosexual propaganda."
Poland's education minister wants to keep children from seeing homosexual material
Roman Giertych, Poland's deputy prime minister and education minister, is preparing legislation to sanction school principals who allow members of gay rights organizations to speak with pupils, a Polish education ministry spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.
Deputy Education Minister Miroslaw Orzechowski said the bill is intended to protect Polish families and could come before parliament by the end of March.
Giertych is reported to be penning the bill himself
"The Polish constitution says that the state should protect families, because of that, we are obligated to take this step," he said at a press conference. "There are children in schools who could be susceptible to homosexual political agitation, and that puts homosexual propaganda in direct opposition to the elementary interests of our state."
Orzechowski criticized flyers promoting safe sex, which were distributed at schools and showed two men kissing.
"We have to exert our influence while we still can and not wait until it is too late," he said.
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said the draft would not subject to Poland to criticism for intolerance and added that he expected the draft to be approved by the parliament.
"I have said it many times: I am for tolerance," he said. "But recommending a homosexual lifestyle to young people in schools as an alternative to normal life goes too far. These kinds of initiatives in schools have to be stopped."
Legal questions remain
The bill would violate European anti-discrimination laws
Some doubts remain regarding the constitutionality of the bill forbidding homosexual material and gay and lesbian rights groups from schools. If enacted, the law would also violate European Union anti-discrimination regulations.
The proposed legislation would mean teachers who mention same-sex relationships in classrooms could be fired immediately and forced to pay a fine. Health educators who advocate safe sex among homosexuals would also be prohibited from entering schools.
Giertych -- who is said to be overseeing the draft himself -- is the leader of Poland's Catholic-nationalist League of Polish Families (LPR), a junior partner in the three-party populist-conservative coalition government of Prime Minister Kaczynski.
The European Parliament has said Giertych's party, which received 8 percent of the vote in a 2005 general election, is part of the reason behind a "rise in racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and homophobic intolerance" in Poland.
Outrage in England
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In English schools, in contrast, children are reading stories titled "King and King," a fairytale about a gay prince, and "And Tango Makes Three," a story about homosexual penguins who raise an adopted child, as part of a pilot program to teach kids about gay issues.
Sponsored by the Department for Education, the "No Outsiders" plan has sparked anger among some religious groups.
"This is tantamount to child abuse," said Stephen Green, director of the religious campaign group Christian Voice. "The whole project is nothing more than propaganda aimed at primary school children to make them sympathetic to homosexuality."
In 2003, Britain repealed a law that kept local authorities from promoting a homosexual lifestyle, and the current pilot project is seen as the first effort to make gay issues part of modern primary school life.
"'King and King' has as little to do with sex as Cinderella and is about love," said Mark Jennet, who is responsible for training the teachers who take part in the project. "The problems that arise do not come from the children but from adults' nervousness."