Gay And Trans Lawmakers Sit In Polish Parliament’s Front Row

Last week, Nobel Prize laureate and former Polish president Lech Walesa said Polish gays should have no rights in Parliament and should be put “behind a wall.” In protest, Parliament leaders switched their seats around so gay and trans members could sit front row.

Czarek Sokolowski / AP

Janusz Palikot (left), Anna Grodzka (center), and Robert Biedron (right).

During a television interview on Friday, Lech Walesa, long considered a hero by many in Poland and the international community for his efforts during the anti-communist struggle in the 1980s, shocked followers by making starkly anti-gay comments. “They have to know that they are a minority and must adjust to smaller things,” he said. “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 devout Catholic, even suggested that gays should sit “behind a wall” in the Polish parliament rather than expect a seat alongside fellow lawmakers. Despite the public outcry his comments have sparked, Walesa refuses to apologize.

On Wednesday, Janusz Palikot, the leader of Poland’s Progressive Movement Party, coordinated some seating changes so that Robert Biedron, a gay rights activist, and MP Anna Grodzka, a trans woman, could sit in the parliament’s front row rather than their usual third row spot.

Czarek Sokolowski / AP

Grodzka and Biedron in February.

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Saeed Jones is executive editor, culture for BuzzFeed and the author of the poetry collection Prelude to Bruise, and is based in New York.
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