A European Parliament debate on homophobia yesterday went ahead despite a mass walk-out of MEPs led by Polish delegates.

Konrad Szymanski, who leads the Justice and Law party in the parliament, said the debate should be abandoned as it was attempting to discuss legislation that was not on the Polish government’s official agenda.

The Justice and Law party are partners in Poland’s coalition government, along with the League of Polish Families, who in March proposed a law that would bar the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools.

The centre-right EPP group in the Parliament agreed with the Poles, and many of their MEPs walked out, claiming there is no evidence of discrimination against LGBT people in Poland.

The Conservative and Ulster Unionist parties are members of the EPP.

Last month in Poland, a Ministry of Education press conference was told by junior Education minister Miroslaw Orzechowski that new laws will, “punish whomever promotes homosexuality or any other deviance of a sexual nature in educational establishments.”

During yesterday’s debate the European Parliament was told by European commissioner for equal opportunity Vladimir Spidla that:

“Such a law, if it were to emerge, would be in contradiction with the European human rights convention and the EU charter on fundamental rights.”

The parliament called on Poland to “publicly condemn and take measures against declarations by public leaders inciting discrimination and hatred based on sexual orientation.”

They also resolved to send a fact-finding mission to Poland.

Yesterday Mr Spidla attended the launch of the EU Diversity Truck, which will spend the next seven months touring European cities and raising awareness of the EU anti-discrimination rules.

2007 is European year of equal opportunities for all.

“We have some of the strongest anti-discrimination rules in the whole of the world, but still many people do not know what their rights are,” Mr Spidla said, according to eupolitix.com.