By MONIKA SCISLOWSKA
WARSAW, Poland – Poland’s first transsexual lawmaker has vowed to campaign for the rights of gender minorities and make predominantly Catholic Poland more receptive to transsexuals and homosexuals.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Anna Grodzka said on Monday that the time has come for sexual minority groups in Poland to enjoy the right to legal partnerships, job security and state funding for medical sex change procedures.
“Enough of this concealing of the truth,” Grodzka said. “This group of people, even if small, has its rights and they should be respected. They should not be pushed into oblivion.”
The 57-year-old Grodzka made history in Poland by becoming the first ever transsexual to win a seat in parliament in elections on Oct. 9. Her election underlines the profound social change taking place in this deeply conservative and mostly Catholic country.
When parliament meets for the first time, Poland will also have its first openly gay person, Robert Biedron, a leading gay rights activist, and two black lawmakers.
Before World War II, Poland was a multiethnic society inhabited by Jews, ethnic Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Germans and others. But it became a homogenous society of mostly Catholic Poles after the Holocaust and the redrawing of Poland’s borders after World War II.
Great social flux, however, has come in recent years, especially with European Union bringing greater contact with Western ideas. Many young Poles have lived for a time in places like Britain, returning home with reshaped views on sexual and other minorities.
Grodzka runs Trans-Fuzja, a foundation that supports some 1,000 transgender people in Poland, and decided to run for parliament to attract media attention to her mission. Founded in 2007, the foundation lobbies for legislation that would secure the rights of the group and offers direct help to its members.