Former Polish president and Nobel peace prize winner Lech Walesa this weekend said LGBT individuals in politics should be shunned and forced to sit behind a wall in parliament.
“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 told broadcaster TVN. “I don’t agree to this and I will never agree to it.”
The comments have outraged many in Poland, where the country’s parliament includes an out gay man and a transgender woman, both members of the Palikot’s Movement party. ”From a human point of view his language was appalling. It was the statement of a troglodyte,” said Jerzy Wenderlich, a deputy speaker of Parliament, according to the Associated Press.
Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute, said Walesa’s comments are particularly discouraging coming from a figure renowned for his historic fight for democracy. ”Walesa helped break the back of an authoritarian regime, but his recent comments suggest he would return his country to authoritarianism and oppression based on his own bigotry and prejudice. His comments are as sad as they are outrageous,” said Wolfe.
Walesa was a poltical leader and activist who in the early 1980s founded Solidarity, the first independent trade union in the former Soviet bloc countries. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as president of Poland from 1990 to 1995.
He has a history of making anti-gay statements. In 2000, Windy City Media reported that Walesa said gays need medical treatment. ”Imagine if all people were like that. We wouldn’t have any descendants,” Walesa told state news agency PAP. Last year Walesa said he opposes marriage equality and would pray for a child of his to change if he learned they were gay.
UPDATE: Party officials have responded to Walesa’s comments by temporarily promoting two openly gay and transgender lawmakers to front row positions in parliament. Read more from the Associated Press.