The European Parliament is set to investigate the legality of a proposed Polish law which aims to ban discussion of homosexuality in schools.

The Polish deputy minister of education, Miroslaw Orzechowski, said that the government would introduce legislation that would punish anyone who promotes homosexuality in schools and education establishments.

Teachers, principals and students who violate the law could face dismissal, fines or prison terms. Teachers who are openly gay would also be dismissed.

While the law has not been officially submitted to the Polish Parliament, the European Parliament’s committee on civil liberties has already met about the proposed legislation. It has asked the EU Parliament’s legal services to assess whether the bill would violate EU laws.

In a statement, Dutch green Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Kathalijne Buitenweg said that, “It is shocking that the government of a modern European country would even consider such draconian legislation. The promotion of gay hatred is the antithesis of EU anti-discrimination rules and the Polish government must publicly reject this approach.”

The proposed legislation follows a series of recent threats and abuses against lesbian and gay Poles by state officials.

“Polish authorities claim to be protecting families, but in fact they are trying to deny children free speech and lifesaving information on HIV/AIDS,” said Scott Long, from Human Rights Watch. “Schools should be training grounds for tolerance, not bastions of repression and discrimination,” he added.

The European Parliament has been particularly vocal on gay issues of late. On Thursday last week it passed a resolution calling on Nigeria to abandon its proposed controversial anti-gay law.

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