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Walesa avoids hate crime charge for anti-gay remarks

Walesa avoids hate crime charge for anti-gay remarks

WARSAW, Poland — Polish prosecutors say they will not charge former President Lech Walesa with hate crimes for recent remarks deemed offensive to gays.

Lech Walesa

Walesa, a communist-era fighter for democracy and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, sparked outrage among liberal Poles by saying March 1 that gays have no right to a prominent role in politics.

He said gay lawmakers should sit in the back of Parliament, or “even behind the wall.”

That prompted Ryszard Nowak, director of the National Committee for the Defense Against Sects and Violence, to file a complaint with prosecutors in Gdansk, Walesa’s hometown. He said Walesa was promoting the hatred of a sexual minority.

But Renata Klonowska, head of the regional prosecutor’s office in Gdansk, said Wednesday that investigators found Walesa did not commit a crime under Polish law.

Walesa remarks have 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. But Walesa has said he has always proven himself as a democrat and had been misunderstood. He didn’t elaborate and refused to apologize.

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