BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Renowned for his anti-communist struggle, his trade union activism, and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, former Polish president Lech Walesa has sparked outrage after saying that gays have no right to sit on the front benches in parliament and that a minority should not impose itself on the majority, the Associated Press reports.
According to the report, Walesa made the comments in a television interview during a discussion about gay rights.
"They have to know that they are a minority and must adjust to smaller things, and not rise to the greatest heights, the greatest hours, the greatest provocations, spoiling things for the others and taking [what they want] from the majority," Walesa, a staunch Roman Catholic, told the private broadcaster TVN. "I don't agree to this and I will never agree to it."
A complaint against Walesa was filed with prosecutors, accusing him of promoting hate against sexual minorities.
"From a human point of view, his language was appalling. It was the
statement of a troglodyte," Jerzy Wenderlich, a deputy speaker of parliament with the Democratic Left Alliance, is quoted as saying.
The Catholic church in Poland still wields significant influence in the country's political life, but in 2011 the progressive Palikot's Movement party won seats in parliament for the first time. Included in their ranks are transgender MP Anna Grodzka and Robert Biedron, who is openly gay.
Grodzka and Biedron plan to sit in the front row of parliament this week in response to Walesa's comments.
"I think Walesa doesn't realise the kind of society we are now. Walesa went astray somewhere," The Telegraph quotes Biedron as saying.
"Lech Walesa up until now was known for tearing down walls, not building them," said Janusz Palikot, leader of the Palikot Movement. "Walesa's words contradict democracy because that form of government is based on protecting minorities."
Grodzka, who was nominated by Palikot for a deputy
speaker's post in parliament, lost her bid to fill the job
after fellow MPs voted to keep the incumbent in office.
The Sejm, or lower house of parliament, recently voted down three separate pieces
of legislation that would have granted legal rights to unmarried
couples, including gay couples. According to Pink News, Prime
Minister Donald Tusk, whose Civic Platform produced the bills, had been
urging other legislators to back the plan and "make the lives of 'many
Poles, also homosexual, more dignified.'"
Landing image: thefamouspeople.com