Thousands of people are marching and dancing through the streets of central Warsaw to show their support for gay rights.

They are calling for stronger defiance of discrimination and greater acceptance for same-sex unions and marriages.

The 17th annual Equality Parade took place Saturday, with a deeply conservative government that opposes marriage rights or civil unions for same-sex couples ruling Poland.

Some 40 foreign embassies, including those of France and the United States, expressed their support for the parade.

About 5,000 people took part in the event, which is meant as a demonstration of tolerance not only for gays and lesbians, but also people with disabilities and other marginalised groups.

Participants carried balloons and the rainbow flags that are the symbol of LGBT rights.

One banner read: "Homophobia causes heart illness."

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