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Originally published Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 1:50 AM

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Polish lawmakers protest Walesa's anti-gay rant

Poland's first openly gay and transsexual lawmakers have taken seats in the front bench of Parliament to protest hostile remarks by former President Lech Walesa.

The Associated Press

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WARSAW, Poland —

Poland's first openly gay and transsexual lawmakers have taken seats in the front bench of Parliament to protest hostile remarks by former President Lech Walesa.

Walesa, the leading hero in Poland's successful anti-communist struggle, said Friday that gays belong on the back rows of Parliament, or "even behind a wall."

The words sparked huge outrage among liberal Poles, with some questioning whether the Nobel Peace Prize winner has permanently damaged his legacy as a champion of democracy.

Robert Biedron, a gay rights activist, and Anna Grodzka, who had a sex change operation, were given seats in the front of the assembly Wednesday.

The first row is reserved for party leaders. Biedron and Grodzka - who are both new lawmakers - usually sit in the third row.

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