City authorities in San Francisco have unanimously voted in favor of renaming a street hitherto dedicated to Lech Walesa owing to homophobic remarks made by the former Polish president in 2013. Lech Walesa Street will be renamed Tom Waddell Place, in tribute to the gay activist who founded the Gay Olympics.
On 1 March 2013, the former Solidarity trade union leader declared in an interview that gay MPs should “sit behind a wall” in Poland’s lower house of parliament. He argued that homosexuals “have to understand they are a minority and adapt themselves to smaller things.”
Although he originally stood by his comments, he later published a conciliatory letter in the Wprost weekly claiming that he is on “friendly terms” with more than one homosexual, and that he “doesn’t look into people’s beds as I’m not bothered (by such matters).”
However, Walesa lost several fee-paid speaking appointments in the US as a result of his original remarks.
Jane Kim from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors argued from the outset that the street name change “in no way takes away from Lech Walesa’s achievements,” but that his comments “are not representative of the city I’m a part of and its values of inclusiveness.” (nh)