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Poland LGBT: Diplomats from 50 countries call for end to discrimination

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media captionPoland has been called the worst country in the EU for LGBT rights

Ambassadors from around the world have called for the rights of gay and transgender people to be respected in Poland, where many towns have declared themselves free of "LGBT ideology".

An open letter released on Sunday urges the Polish government to "end discrimination" of sexual minorities.

It was signed by envoys from 50 countries, including Poland's EU partners, the US, Israel and India.

Hostility to LGBT rights has become a flashpoint in Poland in recent years.

Conservative politicians, including the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), have frequently taken aim at the LGBT community.

Andrzej Duda, who was re-elected as president in June on a nationalist agenda, has said the LGBT movement is "more destructive" than communism.

Same-sex marriages and civil unions are not legal in Poland. Same-sex couples also have no legal right to adopt children.

About 100 towns and regions across Poland have passed resolutions condemning "LGBT ideology". Those who defend such moves say they are opposed to an "aggressive ideology promoting homosexuality".

Observers say the resolutions are unenforceable but have provided ammunition in Poland's increasingly bitter culture war.

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of the capital Warsaw in recent months to protest against the anti-LGBT policies of President Duda.

Activists were arrested and charged for draping LGBT flags over statues of Jesus Christ, the astronomer Copernicus and the Warsaw mermaid.

What did the letter say?

The letter, co-ordinated by Belgium's embassy in Warsaw, expressed solidarity with the LGBT community in Poland.

US Ambassador Georgette Mosbacher tweeted the letter, writing: "Human Rights are not an ideology - they are universal. 50 Ambassadors and representatives agree."

The Polish government was obliged "to protect all citizens from violence and discrimination and to ensure they enjoy equal opportunities", the diplomats said.

"To shield communities in need of protection from verbal and physical abuse and hate speech, we need to jointly work on an environment of non-discrimination, tolerance and mutual acceptance," the letter said.

The letter paid tribute to activists who were trying to "end discrimination" of the LGBT community in Poland.

"Human rights are universal and everyone, including LGBTI persons, is entitled to their full enjoyment," the letter said.

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