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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 June 2006, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Gay activists hold Warsaw rally
People at the rally holding the rainbow flag
Gay activists say they are ostracised by society
Thousands of people have taken part in a gay rights march in the Polish capital to protest against ongoing discrimination against homosexuals.

The march was given the go-ahead by Warsaw city officials after being banned for the last two years.

There was a heavy police presence at the rally which passed off peacefully and was also attended by politicians and international supporters.

Activists have accused the government of fuelling hostility towards them.

City officials had also given the green light to a counter-protest by a far-right youth movement called Polish Youth.

However, the group chose to cancel its march following an appeal by prominent right-wing politician Roman Giertych.

A group of some 100 skinheads threw eggs at the marchers, but were prevented from approaching them by police.

"Climate of fear"

Homosexuality is legal in Poland but the gay community faces an uphill battle for public acceptance.

"We do not agree to being pushed into a ghetto," Ania Kurowicka, a 21-year-old Warsaw University student told AP news agency.

"We do not want to be publicly called deviants, sick people or criminals. We don't want young people to think it is ok to throw stones at us because we are different."

Gay rights activists say homosexuals in former communist Eastern Europe live in a climate of fear and hatred and are frequently subjected to verbal and physical attacks.

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