The appointment of a conservative anti-LGBT crusader to head Poland’s education and science ministry has caused a meltdown among the country’s opposition and will likely intensify Warsaw’s stand-off with Brussels.

Przemyslaw Czarnek, a professor at the Catholic University of Lublin, who has a long record of incendiary statements on gay rights, is part of the new cabinet presented on Wednesday after a reshuffling of the government by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. He now heads the newly created Ministry of Education and Science, which merges the functions of two previous ministries into one.

The politician is a veteran moral crusader against what is termed “LGBT ideology” by Polish conservatives. During the parliamentary election campaign this summer he told Poles to “stop listening to idiocy about some human rights or some equality,” adding that “these people are not normal people.” On other occasions, he has claimed there is “no doubt” that the “ideology” grew out of both Marxism and Nazi Socialism, and linked the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests to homosexuality.

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Czarnek’s appointment, which was reported by local media days before the official announcement, triggered an avalanche of condemnation from the Polish opposition. Radoslaw Sikorski, a Polish MEP and former foreign minister, branded Czarnek as a “homophobe, ignoramus and boor,” who will personify the intellectual level and background of the new cabinet. Deputy Speaker of Parliament Wlodzimierz Czarzasty called the man a “homophobic freak” in an interview.

The new minister, who previously served as a provincial head and an MP, has been a reliable source of controversy in Poland. So much so that the Onion-like website ASZdziennik, which publishes fake quotes of public figures for satirical effect, has made a habit of citing Czarnek’s actual words. (RT)