The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) is calling on the European Union (EU) to address mounting homophobia in Poland.

The group expressed concerns about homophobic attitudes in Poland after a government minister advocated attacking people who take part in a pride march, due next week.

Polish education minister, Wojciech Wierzejski, and member of the, League of Polish Families, told the Polish news agency, PAP, that “a couple of baton strikes” will deter people from attending the March for Equality in Warsaw.

He said: “Warsaw authorities cannot grant permission for this march If the deviants start the demonstration, they should be beaten with batons.”

“I don’t care that some German politicians are coming, they aren’t serious politicians. They’re just gays.

“A couple of baton strikes will deter them from coming again. Gays are cowards by definition, aren’t they?”

Mr Wierzejski has previously accused “homos” of conspiring against him.

Former EastEnder and Labour MEP for the West Midlands, Michael Cashman, president of the EU Intergroup on gay and lesbian rights, said: “This issue of incitement to violence in Poland, which goes uncriticised by the government, must come to an end. Ministers are now indulging in defamation and vilification of homosexuals in Poland.

“Today in the European Parliament we are calling on the Commission and the Council to take action to remind the Polish government of its obligations under EU treaties, which includes respect for minorities, human rights and the rule of law.

“This blatant disregard for human rights is echoing around the region. The attacks this weekend in Moscow are directly related, as is the use of hate speak and discriminatory language in Latvia and Croatia.

“If the Polish government says and does nothing against these dangerous outbursts by senior politicians then by it’s silence it condones and acquiesces.”

Last week Poland’s Supreme Administrative Court (NSA) upheld an earlier administrative court ruling, effectively supporting the right of homosexuals and other minority groups to organize public rallies and marches.

Warsaw authorities have not decided if they will allow a gay march to take place on June 10 2006 in the capital city. Similar gay demonstrations were banned in 2004 and 2005 by the conservative mayor, now Poland’s president, Lech Kaczyński, who also saw his decisions cancelled by administrative courts.

Last week’s Moscow Gay Pride in Russia was marred by violence, arrests and political and religious incitement.

The European Parliament promised to combat homophobia on the continent earlier this year.