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Polish activists condemn proposed inspections of LGBT-friendly schools

Polish nationalists gather to protest against what they call "LGBT aggression", in Warsaw

WARSAW (Reuters) - Right activists who published a directory of LGBT-friendly schools in Poland condemned on Friday a plan by a parliament-appointed official to inspect the establishments on the list, saying it could have a damaging effect on young people.

LGBT rights are a deeply divisive issue in the predominantly Catholic country, and the ruling nationalist Law and Justice party has maintained its opposition to what it calls "LGBT ideology" in the run up to elections this year.

The LGBTQplusME project, coordinated by activist Dominik Kuc, published an online ranking of schools in Poland on May 10 based on how "LGBTQ-friendly" they were, according to the results of a survey.

It includes a list of the top 10 most friendly schools, part of a project, it said, to help people find "safe, open and tolerant" places to study.

A day later, the parliament-appointed Children's Rights Ombudsman, Mikolaj Pawlak, told a conference organised by conservative Catholic organisations under the patronage of the education ministry that he would launch inspections to see "how this friendliness manifests itself".

His office did not immediately reply to an emailed request for comment on Friday.

Kuc told reporters that the schools on the list helped the psychological wellbeing of all children and that the proposed inspections could have damaging consequences.

"In the current situation schools are intimidated by the Children's Rights Ombudsman," Kuc said.

"The Ombudsman for Children's Rights is actually taking children hostage in this political war, they will feel the effects of the announcement of these inspections."

Religious conservatives have regularly argued that teaching about LGBT issues in schools is dangerous as it seeks to sexualise children, a position which is rejected by activists and NGOs.

Opposition lawmaker Marta Golbik also condemned the planned inspections.

"If he (Pawlak) is going to inspect friendly schools, maybe he will start inspecting friendly hospitals, playgrounds that are friendly for children," she said.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Andrew Heavens)