Lech Walesa: anti-gay homophobe

Lech Walesa, Polish trade union organizer, Nobel prize winner, and former Polish president – who was instrumental in taking on Poland’s communist authorities in the 1970s and 1980s – apparently is not a great fan of the gays.

Walesa was asked on Friday about gay rights, and specifically “civil partnerships,” which I assume are a version of civil unions, and which were recently debated in the Polish parliament, and lost.

He responded with a bit of an anti-gay tirade.

From the Guardian:

Walesa said in a television interview on Friday that he believed gay people had no right to sit on the front benches in parliament and, if there at all, should sit in the back “or even behind a wall”.

“They have to know that they are a minority and adjust to smaller things, and not rise to the greatest heights,” he told the private broadcaster TVN during a discussion of gay rights. “A minority should not impose itself on the majority.”

Keep in mind, we’re dealing with a few things here: 1) Poland; 2) a huge Catholic. That doesn’t exonerate it, but it may explain it. The heroes of my generation, the Walesas of the world who took on the Soviets and their puppet states, are from another era. The man is 69. And sadly, older people are not as good as younger people on gay civil rights, especially, I suspect, when you head on over to Eastern Europe and particularly Catholic countries.

That’s not to excuse it, but perhaps to explain why a human rights advocates would be anti-gay – in his time, gay rights weren’t human rights. Which is sad.

As I’ve noted before, I think it’s particularly sad when human rights advocates, and members of minorities more generally, are bad on civil rights, no matter whose civil rights. I think those who are on the receiving end of discrimination, whether presently or historically, should have a special sensitivity – a special duty, even – to at least recognize the discrimination that other communities face.

In this case, I consider the victims of communism a “minority” even if they were the entire country – they were a minority in the sense that the government was the majority, they were little more than minions (though some were quite willing minions).

Now, having said all of that, how cool is that Walesa’s words have created an uproar in Poland.  Much like in the states, the very fact that Walesa’s words caused a controversy shows that the country is changing.  In the past, people would have shrugged had a former politician, and an old man, said something anti-gay.

ABC has more:

However, much has changed. A watershed moment came in 2011 when a new progressive and anti-clerical party — Palikot’s Movement — entered Parliament for the first time. Taking seats for the party were Anna Grodzka, a transsexual, and Robert Biedron, who is openly gay. These were all historic firsts.

The two have been in the public eye while lawmakers have debated a civil partnership law. Though lawmakers have recently struck down proposals, the discussions continue. A new campaign was just launched to fight taboos.

Some predicted the consequences for Walesa could be serious.

A national committee devoted to fighting hate speech and other crimes filed a complaint with prosecutors on Sunday in Gdansk, Walesa’s home city, accusing him of promoting “propaganda of hate against a sexual minority.”

This reminds me of the protest over Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as Defense Secretary.  In part, people were upset about Hagel’s nasty comments about gay people generally, and former Ambassador Jim Hormel, who is gay.  The fact that the nomination of a Defense Secretary could be in part endangered by his anti-gay comments of a decade ago, and that he was basically forced to recant those words in order to get the job at Defense, is indicative of one hell of a change in our political culture.  And the same goes for Poland’s reaction to Walesa’s comments.

Poland has an openly-trans member of Parliament.  We don’t even have that.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

Share This Post

  • http://www.facebook.com/stronskr Krystian Stronski

    I would not care if he got hit by a bus today, perfect example of a person that has no values. If he says that about gay’s I wonder what he sas about Jews, Blacks and other minorities. Go to HELL.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Lech Walesa: leave the stage sad old troll.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Walesa is a catholic and those who take their superstition seriously are incapable of being for equality. Fortunately millions are moving away from that cult.

    Walesa, like Czech leader Havel, led the uprising of nations who had Stalinism imposed on them by the USSR. He also led the fight against Stalinist dominated unions but after the victories of 1989 began to move steadily to the right and into the ranks of the catholic right.

  • LGBTnazis

    There has nothing to do with catholics. The whole LGBT comes from neo-marxism that most Poles sincerely detest. Have you ever heard of Lenin’s “useful idiots”?

  • donthatethemessenger

    If an individual must be considered homophobic based on their stance concerning homosexuality then God is homophobic.There are over 10 scriptures in the bible which affirm that fact in the Torah and in the New Testament.

  • William Barido

    It is generational. Lech is not deliberately throwing away his legacy. He is simply a product of his time.
    He is wrong, period, on this issue. But that does not negate the good that he did, at great personal cost, earlier in his life.
    As the older generation dies off (and unfortunately, I’m part of it) they are being replaced by a far more tolerant group. While what he is espousing is repulsive, it is completely consistent with his religious beliefs, as errant as they are.

  • Don Chandler

    Wiki reference: At a political campaign rally in 2000 he said “I believe those people need medical treatment”, continuing with “Imagine if all people were like that. We wouldn’t have any descendants.” [64]

    Lol, Just imagine…

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Sad to hear he’s so bigoted and narrow-minded, when so many all over the world who did not have ‘skin’ in the Polish workers revolution stood up for Walesa and his cause.

  • emjayay

    Of course. Just making gross generalizations about US/Canada/Europe vs. Soviet Bloc countries. The predominant cultural differences seem kind of obvious.

  • Jafafa Hots

    I think Obama was for gay rights. He doesn’t come from a strong anti-gay religious background, he was raised in Hawaii which I have heard is a pretty tolerant culture, he’s pretty urbane and educated, etc.

    I think he was just… what’s it called… a politician, and figured it would hurt him too much to do the right thing.

    (This is NOT a defense of Obama)

  • Jafafa Hots

    Even if he doesn’t see gay rights as civil rights, no civil rights advocate would ever say “They have to know that they are a minority and adjust to smaller
    things, and not rise to the greatest heights. A minority should
    not impose itself on the majority.”

    That is kinda, I dunno… the direct opposite of civil rights advocacy?

    I think he was just anti-communist (imagine that from a Catholic) and pro-his-own-rights.

  • pastor

    Lech Walesa was using anti-semitism against opponents during election campaigns long before he started on gays.

  • jomicur

    Gee, it sounds like he’s, er, still evolving.

  • http://borborygmist.influxofdust.com/ Wayne Dyer

    Unrelated, but every time I visit here, I’m struck by the Taboola ads that link over to Newsmax.

  • kingstonbears

    Guess his career in “daddy” porn won’t happen now.

  • UncleBucky

    Birds of a feather… both in Homophobic Cloud Cuckooland.

    Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birds_%28play%29

  • UncleBucky

    “The problem is the Catholic hierarchy and the few traditionalists”

    World wide.

  • UncleBucky

    He may be a hero of Gdansk, but that doesn’t translate necessarily to other issues.

  • Hue-Man

    Another Lech, same gay-hater. Lech Kaczynski, former Polish President, when he was Mayor of Warsaw, banning Gay Pride in 2004 and 2005. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lech_Kaczy%C5%84ski#Mayor_of_Warsaw

    Wiki also has this comment about his unmarried twin brother, Jaroslaw, who was Polish Prime Minister: “Relations between Lech Wałęsa
    and [Jaroslaw] Kaczyński have for many years been strained since Wałęsa told a
    joke about ‘two brothers who arrive at a party – one with his wife and
    one with his “husband”‘. He was alluding to Jarosław Kaczyński having a
    male sexual partner.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaros%C5%82aw_Kaczy%C5%84ski#Biography

  • Bovine500

    Way back when he was a “dissident,” I wondered where Lech Walesa would stand on legal rights for people like me (bisexual). I wasn’t optimistic.

    The fact that he’s older and closely associated with the Catholic Church puts him at a disadvantage as far as a sophistication about LGBT rights is concerned. He might change his thinking later, and he might not.

    There’s only only thing we can say to older, otherwise experienced human rights advocates who are ignorant on this issue: Please choose your words carefully when you’re in private conversation. The people you hurt the most may be the people you love the most. It’s always possible that your dearest friend or family member has a sexual orientation different from your own — or, at the very least, has loved ones who are LGBT.

  • Olivia

    Sounds like just another deeply hidden closet case to me.

  • hollywoodstein

    And Obama thinks he will be remembered fondly for cutting the safety net. How did that idea get stuck in there?

  • dula

    Labor Unions are the minority around the world. I guess they should not impose themselves on the majority and adjust to smaller things. Poor thing,he may have progressed as far as he could, leaving big chunks of his consciousness in darkness.

  • FLL

    Another traditionalist Catholic schmuck. Rank-and-file American Catholics are not the problem since they are even more supportive of gay rights than the national average. I think the situation in Poland may follow the American model, albeit a few years behind. The problem is the Catholic hierarchy and the few traditionalists, like Antonin Scalia and Lech Walesa, who support them.

  • hollywoodstein

    Freedom and capitalism hasn’t wiped out homophobia in the USA. Until recently we too held the medieval peasant mind set despite freedom. In fact, almost half the country still does.
    The Other, like nationalism, remains a useful concept when controlling people.

  • hollywoodstein

    Yes, I made a post about Lech Walesa, about Obama and Prop8.

  • hollywoodstein

    Which makes me wonder about Obama’s moral character flaw regarding the gay. Over 100 million straight Americans see it as a clear, civil rights issue. Some had to come around, but most saw it as a simple question with an obvious answer from the beginning.

    But Obama didn’t. He had to evolve to where he is now. On a simple question. And even then, he had to hide behind his daughter’s skirts. They made me do it.

    I understand the politics. We like to tell ourselves it is not a lack of political courage, instead it is a necessary, cold political calculation. Really, he wants to embrace us. But does he?

    When he has a chance to make an official full throated defense of equality, he doesn’t take it. He saves it for a press release, while arguing in court to free the slaves in 8 states. From a black man who would have been a slave himself.

    Was it Dylan who sang, If something ain’t right, it’s wrong?

  • emjayay

    Well, money and power anyway.

  • emjayay

    He’s of the Medieval Polish Catholic generation which I don’t think is a entirely like for example US Catholics of the same era and working class besides, so I suppose this sort of ignorance is to be expected. What is really appalling is the current official and worse yet popular virulent homophobia of particularly Russia. Wait, what country was it with those wierd twin homophobic guys, and whatever happened to them? Didn’t one die in a plane crash or something?

    In general, it doesn’t seem like a lifetime of creating the New Godless Socialist Man wiped out the ignorant Medieval peasant mindset of Soviet Bloc people like a lifetime of freedom and capitalism (painting with a broad brush here I know) did in the West. Of course they were more Medieval to start with I suppose.

  • caphillprof

    Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.–http://wiki.monticello.org/mediawiki/index.php/Eternal_vigilance_is_the_price_of_liberty_%28Quotation%29

  • nicho

    He was BFFs with the homophobe Wotyla. What else do you need to know?

  • hollywoodstein

    Great context. I’ve met the man. His homophobia is based in religion. And he also uses comments like these to pander to his hardcore Catholic base.
    The irony.
    And great catch about Anna Grodzka and the reaction. Kidz these days. What will they do next?
    In terms of civil society, my impression is that Poland is progressing while Russia is regressing.

  • catdance

    I recall thinking how transparent the Church’s greed was, when John Paull II threw the support of the Catholic Church behind Solidarity in Poland, yet jerked the chains of those priests associated with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. In Poland, the Church stood to get its land, wealth and power back. In Nicaragua, the Contra-supporting Church hierarchy stood to lose wealth and power and so jerked the chains of the religious who supported the Sandinistas. It’s not about the poor, it’s always about the Vatican treasury.

  • Martin

    Why is it that these guys always look like the wierdos I see lurking around in Griffith Park in their SUVs

  • Quilla

    Dickweed comments. No siwucha for you!

  • Indigo

    He’s just another good Catholic. If you’re gay and they’re nice to you, you know they want something..

© 2014 AMERICAblog News. All rights reserved. · Entries RSS