WARSAW, Poland – Former Polish president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa, accused of homophobia after saying that gay MPs should sit in the back of Parliament, will not be prosecuted on a hate crime charge.
The Regional Prosecutor's Office in Gdańsk said today that it would not pursue charges against Walesa, who was the face behind the Solidarity strikes in the 1980s that elevated him into prominence and eventually to enter politics.
Renata Klonowska, head of the prosecutor's office, said she reviewed video of the incident in which Walesa goes on an anti-gay tirade.
"I have watched the speech by Lech Walesa for signs of an offence,” Klonowska told The News in Poland, adding that investigators have studied his outburst under articles 256 and 257 of Poland's Penal Code, which outlaws incitement to hatred "based on national, ethnic, racial, religious or lack of religious beliefs.”
The prosecutor noted that both articles 256 and 257 do not mention hatred against those of a different sexual orientation, The News said.
Walesa, 69, is a devout Catholic and backs the Roman Catholic Church’s anti-gay agenda. During a discussion on civil unions, Walesa went on a homophobic rant against the LGBT community, including those in Parliament.
“Homosexuals should sit on the last bench in the plenary hall, or even behind the wall, and not somewhere at the front,” Walesa said.
Walesa then said that the LGBT community didn’t deserve equality.
“A minority cannot impose itself on the majority. They must know they are a minority and adapt themselves to smaller things,” Walesa said.
Walesa’s comments caused quite an uproar in Poland, in Europe and across the world. Some called for Walesa to be stripped of his Nobel Peace Prize.
Leaders in Poland’s Parliament quickly made a hugely symbolic move in response, promoting the nation’s first gay and transgender lawmakers to sit in the front bench of Parliament this week. Openly gay MP Robert Biedron and transgender MP Anna Grodzka got the prominent seating at the next session of Parliament.
Walesa’s son Jaroslaw Walesa, a member of the European Parliament, rebuked his dad’s homophobic remarks. “Gays, lesbians, the homosexuals, have the right to have a representation and should be” in Parliament, Jaroslaw Walesa said.
Poland has a mixed record on LGBT rights. Poland allows gays in the military and provide sexual orientation protections in labor laws, but does not recognize same-sex relationships or allow gays to adopt.