Homosexuality is on a par with rape and prostitution, according to official teaching materials for Poles studying to be nurses and midwives.
12:08PM BST 08 Jun 2012 By Matthew Day, Warsaw
Teaching books refer to homosexuality as a "pathology" and the subject often comes under the section of "sexual problems" where students are instructed on "how to identify and provide assistance in situations of sexual assault and sexual disorders".
A multiple choice question from a 2011 exam paper on gynaecology read: "Homosexuals are particularly dangerous socially and seduce individuals by ..." Students are then given a number of options including "abnormal sexual drive" and "prostitution".
The curriculum content has been condemned by equal rights campaigners in Poland, a country where conservative attitudes towards homosexuality still hold sway over large parts of the population.
"This is a particularly dangerous incident of homophobia," said Agata Chaber, president of the Campaign Against Homophobia. "Official information in course curriculum is regarded as reliable and verified, and therefore very few people will question it." Their anger has been intensified by the fact that the material went unchallenged for some 10 years despite reviews by leading Polish medical scientists.
Agnieszka Kozlowska-Rajewicz, the Polish government's plenipotentiary for equal treatment, described the course content as "unacceptable", adding that she had written to the health ministry calling for an "immediate cease" to its teaching.
The health ministry has said it will initiate a review of the teaching material with the aim of bringing it up to date but this may take some time owing to legal procedures.
This response promoted immediate accusations of foot-dragging.
"For 10 years the ministry did not mind that nurses and midwives learnt content that was both discriminatory and hurtful for sexual minorities, and now it doesn't seem to mind that the content will still be taught until it ends a bureaucratic procedure for establishing new programmes," commented Zosia Jablonska, an equal-rights campaigner.
The scandal raises further question marks over Poland's liberal credentials following racism allegations in a BBC Panorama documentary. Although homophobic attitudes in Poland are on the wane they are still encounter conservative opposition, especially in the countryside.