Thousands of people gathered in Warsaw on Friday for an annual march organised by the far-right to mark Independence Day, with a handful carrying white supremacist or anti-gay rights banners and firing off red flares.

Marchers, including families with children as well as representatives of far-right groups, waved white and red Polish flags and chanted “God, Honour, Homeland” as they walked through central Warsaw amid a heavy police presence.

The annual event has become a point of friction between far-right groups and supporters of the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on one side, and their liberal opponents on the other.

Since it came to power in 2015, PiS has sought to instill more conservative, traditional family values in public life, including the introduction of a near-total ban an abortion. Critics at home and abroad have accused it of fomenting homophobia during election campaigns.

“Poland will be independent only if everybody’s rights to life are equal and abortion is fully banned,” said one participant, Magorzata Kurzeja, 42, an anti-abortion activist.

The Warsaw city hall has made numerous attempts in the past to delegalize the event, but the Independence March association, the organizer, has successfully challenged court decisions.