Nobel Peace Prize Winner Lech Walesa Wants Gays ‘Behind A Wall’

LechWalesaHas Lech Walesa completely tarnished his image as a peacemaker?

Walesa, the union organizer who became Poland's first democratic president in 1989, shocked fans and foes alike by saying last week that gay people should basically stop trying to be involved in the democratic process and go back to the proverbial kitchen, or, to be more precise, "behind a wall," especially in Parliament, because "a minority should not impose itself on the majority."

From ABC News:

Walesa said in a television interview on Friday that he believes gays have no right to sit on the front benches in Parliament and, if represented at all, should sit in the back, "and even behind a wall."

"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," he told the private broadcaster TVN during a discussion of gay rights.

"I don't agree to this and I will never agree to it."

"A minority should not impose itself on the majority," Walesa said.

Obviously many people are outraged over the Nobel Peace prize winner's remarks, but the most concise criticism may come from liberal Polish politician Jerzy Wenderlich, "It was the statement of a troglodyte."

"From a human point of view his language was appalling," Wenderlich said of the devote Catholic's comments. "Now nobody in their right mind will invite Lech Walesa as a moral authority, knowing what he said."

But most people also know that Walesa's labor past doesn't mean he's progressive. He did, after all, supported Mitt Romney during the last election, and was pretty chummy with Ronald Reagan, who was of course no friend of friends of Dorothy.

(Image via Christofer C. Dierdorff.)

Comments

  1. matt says

    Heavy right-wing Catholicism in Poland. Religion was suppressed under Communism, so it came back in full force after communism fell and a pole was elected pope. Walesa and JP2 were linked in people’s minds in a nationalism saturated with religion. Many in Poland are trying to resist this now. A generation has come and gone. Keep resisting, Poland.

  2. Jerry says

    It would be fun under other circumstances, to watch a world figure piss all over himself and his reputation, and Walesa is arguably the latest in Polish jokes. But he looks like such a sad man, and may be suffering from some form of dementia. Also, as pointed out by others, the Nobel Peace Prize doesn’t convey sainthood and not all recipients are worthy.

  3. says

    And Henry Kissinger ( war criminal) won that prize too !

    But still they all fear “the gay”……they all have that subliminal crack in the solidity of their sexuality, that nagging unease that their manhood could be questioned if they were tolerant of gays or if they were caught looking too keenly at a beautiful man.
    Still they all live in fear.

    And Walesa’s beloved Catholic Church supports him all the way…..get rid of the “objectively disordered”……as the New York Times quotes the Pope again this morning. Yeah but them behind a wall, or behind wire, or in a camp.

    Shame on you Poland for tolerating this weasel of a man.

  4. Brian says

    This is shocking, and actually seems only peripherally anti-gay. Sure the topic at hand was gays, but listen to his response. He never says anything about gays being immoral, sinners, icky or the usual other issues homophobes raise. All he says is we’re a minority. And because we’re a minority, we shouldn’t sit at the front of the table, should be behind a wall, shouldn’t aim for the top of society etc. Considering Poland’s Jewish minority was put behind walls and then liquidated just a couple of generations ago, this fascist approach to civil rights and democracy is simply appalling.

  5. Christophe says

    That’s Straight Privilege for you: they think their privileges are deserved, when actually it’s socially constructed and completely artificial. (Sarah Schulman, “Ties That Bind, Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences”). When the majority is entirely wrong about the minority, they must be made to see the truth and accept it (just like we had to).

  6. K in VA says

    It’s sad, really, how often people reknowned and revered for fighting for rights for one group end up working just as hard against rights for some other groups. Sort of an “I got mine, screw all you” mentality. Sad.

    BUT — and this is a big BUT — Polish jokes are out of line. Always.

  7. Kyle says

    I can’t see how gay rights interfere with anyone else, especially how they impose on any majority. One possible example: Businesses and governments will have to afford benefits for gay partners, spouses and children. But I see denying these benefits as a kind of tax or fine on gay people.

    Imagine if Lech Walesa said this about disabled people. This seems like a grasp at rationalizing a bias that is no longer tenable among civilized people. As for the religion copout: If you have seen gay families and still think your god ever meant to prohibit them, then you have a demonic religion.

  8. andrew says

    No surprise. He was John Paul II’s boy and we know what a liberal he was. Both Lech & JP II fought Communism, not because it was authoritarian, but because they wanted their version of authoritarianism to be in charge.

  9. TheGay says

    What do you expect of Catholic Polaks ?

    How is this news ?

    Poland has always been a craphole.

    Look at how the Polish have dealt with their past role in the systemic elimination of Jews from their country.

  10. ratbastard says

    Eastern Europe is a backward place still, in many ways, compared to western Europe and North America. Communism and Marxism and before that reactionary totalitarianism did a number on these societies that will take a long time to fix. They were not able to evolve in a healthy way as was the case in western Europe and N. America [and parts S. America, Australia, N.Z.,etc.].

  11. rick scatorum says

    Thanks jack. According to dobbs’ “down with big brother”, he was such an activist that he wasnt much of a father to his five impoverished kids, and a crappy husband

  12. ratbastard says

    @THEGAY,

    You do know the Nazis killed many more non-Jews than Jews, don’t you? As regards to Poland, the German Nazis didn’t discriminate between Jew and non-Jew, they had contempt for all ‘inferior’ Slavs, showing only empathy for infants and young children who looked ‘Aryan’. Then the communists effed them over in brutal fashion for many generations. Even in the 21st century, it’s believed by many that the Russian government caused the plane crash that killed basically the entire Polish government.

    It is commonly believed in eastern Europe that Marxism/communism is a Jewish-based ideology due to the fact it’s creator and early leaders were Jewish. This is a big part of the basis for antisemitism there. Please, I’m not condoning hate and antisemitism, just trying to explain the thought process of many people on the ground in places like eastern Europe.

  13. says

    I wonder how many of you folks mouthing off about Poland have ever been there.

    The current Parliament includes one out gay man, Robert Biedron, and a transsexual, Anna Grodska.

    It was a Pole who called him a troglodyte. Many modern Poles would agree.

  14. UFFDA says

    Though to be admired always for what he once did, Walesa is gravely, sadly wrong and it is quite alright that he be left out and alone in his troglyodites cave for the rest of his life. The lock has turned.

  15. Lukebrux says

    Lech Walesa is well known for his positions against Gays and Jewish, in the past he had also some appalling language against black students in Poland. He got his Nobel prize for his opposition to Communism and not for his opinions close to the anti semitic sectors of the Polish Catholic church.

  16. Fahd says

    Of course, Lech Walesa, a Polish Roman Catholic, is an a**hole.

    The Germans built them some much nicer factories now, but the uncompromising backwardness of Eastern Europe compounded by decades of Soviet domination, is not going to lead to progressive thinking coming from this has been shipyard electrician.

    The typos and poor writing of this post are so disheartening – “friends of Dorothy”? really? why go to that trouble? Is it worth explaining to people under 50 that Judie Garland was a gay icon and Judy Garland played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz in 1939, so when you say “friend of Dorothy” it is code for gay people. who still uses that expression? Maybe it’s a revival.

    Weekend at Towleroad is like when you let your little brother in High School take over the shop.

    Nothing personal.

  17. Continuum says

    Just substitute “Jews” for “Gays” and you understand why the majority of Poles cooperated so fully with the Nazis. It wasn’t an accident that you had the Warsaw ghetto.

    BTW – as to the Polish Catholic church. When the old Polish communist secret police archives were opened, they found that somewhere between 30% and 50% of Polish priests were happy informants to the communist regime. As usual, the Catholic Church was more interested in power than in saving souls.

  18. Gordon says

    Hard to believe that someone from Poland should forget the lessons of WWII. Perhaps he doesn’t remember the Ghettos and the pogroms and the millions killed by Hitler and Stalin all in the name of the “majority”. Perhaps he is the holy one whos family escaped from the carnage and he never lost anyone to vile prejudice. It doesn’t MATTER if he is of a different generation. He can change, he is a human, after all, and not some animal. Even though in this instance he is acting like one.

  19. Bryan says

    Walesa has always been anti-Gay. Nothing new or remarkable here.

    Unlike his detractors, he’s actually a stated a principle. Sadly, no one seems inclined to refute his general argument about the place of minorities in society. Calling him a “troglodyte” and other ad hominem attacks may be emotionally satisfying, but proves nothing.

    Screaming “You’re a poo poo head!” has no place in the public sphere. In this case, it’s worse than unproductive – it implies loathing for the man rather than opposition to his ideas. His argument has holes any smart high school student could drive a truck through. Pity no one can be bothered to counter it.

  20. Dearcomrade says

    A great example of someone that was abused (in his case by the communists)turning into an abuser. Israels treatment of the Palestinians is another example.

  21. ble.d_out.color says

    “A minority should not impose itself on the majority.”

    Okay, how did this bastard win a Nobel Peace Prize? Don’t they screen for that s***? Anyway, his NPP should definitely be rescinded now. I mean if he doesn’t want the minority “oppressing” the majority with their quaint little concerns of, you know being beat to death and denied housing and jobs, then does he still think them dirty ole negroes should be out plowing the field out of his sparkl6 nice white society? /sarcasm

    Also his firt name is spot on. B*** couldn’t be a bigger Lech if he tried.

  22. JJ says

    Walesa is a simpleton. Every identity group is a minority, except possibly “Women.” No majority is an identity group. It’s a group that shares a common creed of justice. Whatever creed wins more than half the minds is the majority creed. If the majority recognizes our rights, it isn’t because we’ve twisted some concession out of them. It’s because that’s what justice means to most people, regardless of how anyone self identifies, let alone how Walesa chooses to identify them.

  23. woodroad34d says

    A basically uneducated dock worker schlub, who had some leadership skills to overthrow a tyrannic regime — doesn’t make him a saint. Back in 2006 he was against the dictatorial twins who ran Poland and he outed the Prime Minister as gay…so that’s where I’m thinking his thought processes come from; Not from education but his experience with a dictatorial, evil gay. You know like we have here with Tom Delay, Lindsey Graham or Miz Bachmann

  24. UFFDA says

    Well EHRENSTEIN, what an intemperate thing to say! Since a close inspection of Mr. RATB’s ass is beyond my interest (ahem, entry) level perhaps you could be just a little more helpful in the matter of his factual veracity.

    As, to me, the single most horrific event in the course of human history, I am very interested in every truth about the Holocaust.

  25. William says

    The street named after him in a San Francisco alley near the Civic Center MUST be re-named ASAP.

    Alas, Poland, Russia and other eastern bloc nations always need a scapegoat (or two) in order to blame for their wretched lives. Jews always foot the bill until they helped the Nazis kill most of them. Gypsies, Poles (for the Russians) and more have always been targets. Today, it’s gays. Sadly, many immigrants from russia, Poland, etc. bring their anti-gay attitudes to the US and are often the sheep for crazed religious leaders that campaign against gays. Sacramento is a big hotbed of russian baptists who bus loads of people to SF and spew vile whacked out hate against gays.

  26. Jerry6 says

    As a youth, I went to the Polish Catholic Church that was barely 300 feet from my home rather than the English language one two and a half miles away. As a result, I had several Polish boy friends. As we grew, when sexuality started to raise its head,several turned out to be as Gay I was. Now, I wonder if these Polish immigrant families left Poland because of Bigotry back home?

  27. Jesus says

    Proof that the anti-gay Catholics are at war with the LGBT people, they started the war and now we need to put an end to their madness, much like we put an end to Hitlers madness when he used World War Two German Catholics to murder LGBT people and Jews.

  28. andrew says

    @Jesus: “we need to put an end to their madness, much like we put an end to Hitlers madness …” Are you suggesting that we firebomb Polish Cities? A little hysterical perhaps?

  29. Thomas Cardellino says

    Many Polish citizens still feel perfectly comfortable with their anti-Semitism, a cultural trait that allowed for quick and widespread cooperation during World War Two by many common Polish citizens with the invasive Nazi foreign occupying military’s gathering and eventual slaughter of 100’s of 1,000’s of Polish Jews. The Polish political right wing still denigrates Jews as the cause of all of their nation’s problems. Remember, there were plenty of Pink Triangles along with the Yellow Stars of David stitched onto the clothing of those who were forcibly transported to and then marched into the 10’s of 1,000’s of Nazi Death Camps throughout Nazi-occupied Europe, the enormous number of which having recently been revealed by the US Holocaust Museum’s latest research.
    The Catholic religion worldwide has much more to answer for historically than “only” the massive racket of child rape and protection of criminal pedophilia. The Roman Catholic Hungarians and Poles were the most eager of conspirators with the Nazi war machine to honor the deranged wishes of Adolph Hitler, and a great deal of Hitler-love still is widespread in both countries. Just check out the newly formed Fascist government of Hungary, which the US Mainstream News Media see as unworthy to report. Poland could soon fall to fascism in the same manner as economic conditions worsen. We gay folks are among the many human groups who are the proverbial “canaries in the mines” of the most oppressive governments to form on this still conflict-ridden by ignorance planet.

  30. Thomas Cardellino says

    By the way, and a trifle perhaps considering the gravitas of the article’s subject, I was wondering if there is absolutely no editorial revue of the weekend content of Towleroad? How many grammatical mistakes can you find next to Waldo in Mr. Belonsky’s work?

  31. Sean Westmann says

    Sweden should revoke Walensa’s “Peace Prize” since he obviously doesn’t believe in peace for everyone, just the “majority”. Another bigot shows his true colors! :-(

  32. millerbeach says

    What a disappointment, Walesa…if we thought like you, you’d still be in that shipyard, just another cog in the wheel of communism. How sad your small mind cannot see the similarity between our struggle and your former struggle. Maybe you should just ask yourself…what would Jesus do? Start from there…

  33. ratbastard says

    @Jesus,

    Germany is 50/50 Protestant/Catholic. The top Nazi leadership were a mix of both. And many historians theorize that some of them may well have been at least part Jewish themselves.

    World War 2 is a very dark,twisted and convoluted tale,poorly retold even today, and reveals the very debts humans are capable of going; the duplicity that occurred including among Jewish Zionist, various Christians of all denominations, Muslims,the Nazis and communists, big business multinational corporations, etc., is the finest example of this in modern times.

    80-100 million people died in WW2, most in Europe. The communists murdered through various means in addition to using their own ‘camps’ MANY millions more after the war in eastern Europe, China, and elsewhere, including among them homosexuals. Don’t be fooled by many modern communist sympathizers and Marxist [who usually go by other names] gays and ‘minorities’ were all one, big happy family among the far left when this certainly wasn’t the case until at best quite recently. Remember next time you see someone wearing a Che t shirt that he hated homosexuals, killed them personally in addition to ordering their persecution and deaths.

    And no I’m not in any way defending this a** Walesa.

    And no, David Ehrenstein, I don’t hate Jewish people and I’m not a Nazi or far right fanatic, so don’t get you panties in a hunch,boss. I criticize ALL organized religions and their often ridiculous dogmas and asinine beliefs based 99% on fantasy and fiction, including Judism. They don’t get a pass. And sir, you should know [I’m sure you do] that Jewish people are not and weren’t the only ‘victims’ of persecution in our world, far from it.That included my ancestors, never mind the fact I had close blood relatives who died in WW2, others faught the Nazis and helped bring them to their knees and liberate their concentration camps. So I certainly share no particular ‘guilt’ Mr. Ehrenstein. My ancestors and ‘people’ didn’t invent eugenics, fascism, Nazism, or Marxism/communism.

  34. David Hearne says

    Members of the gay community are urging city leaders to rename the downtown Civic Center’s Lech Walesa Street because of an anti-homosexual statement the Polish Solidarity leader allegedly made this spring. (LA Times 1990)

  35. Randy says

    Someone should tell him that Alan Turing was gay, and he helped us defeat the Nazis. If it weren’t for a gay man, Poland wouldn’t exist today and the Poles would be completely wiped out.

  36. BuddyH says

    Walesa did lead the Polish transition to democracy which has made him a hero to the Polish people, but he was also known as a far right activist. This has been known about him since the early days. His intolerance of anyone other than those who shared his beliefs (Catholicism, extreme anti-communism, tendency toward antisemitism….) makes his latest statement no surprise to anyone familiar with his speeches, rants and writings.
    The man should step out of the spotlight and retire, but we have the same mentalities in our own politicians and so called leaders.
    Ignorance.

  37. Bill says

    @ratbastard @UFFDA @ David Ehrenstein : RB’s claim that more non-jews than jews were killed by the nazis is technically true. Note that he said “killed”, not “murdered”, and “killed” includes combat-related deaths. A lot of Russians (estimates are from 7 to over 43 million, with 24 million being a popular one) were killed, including Russians who were not only shooting back, but who ultimately helped making being sent to the “Eastern Front” a fate worse than death (not only was death all too likely but living conditions were terrible). Meanwhile, somewhere around 5 to 6 million Jews were murdered.

    So technically RB is right, but only because “killed” does not mean murdered when the killing is combat related, and there were a huge number of combat-related deaths.

  38. beastius says

    Seriously though, the bloke is like, two hundred years old and has next to zero power or influence anymore.. can’t he just be laughed at and ignored?

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