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Poland's first

October 17, 2011

Poland's voters have elected the first transsexual to parliament - Anna Grodzka, an activist and film producer who says she is ready to push for same-sex civil unions and state funding for sex change operations.

Anna Grodzka
Grodzka belongs to the socially liberal Palikot's MovementImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Poland's first openly transsexual elected parliamentarian said Monday that she would fight for equality for sexual minorities and state funding for sex reassignment surgeries.

Anna Grodzka was elected on October 9 to represent the city of Krakow as part of Palikot's Movement, a new socially liberal party led by controversial business tycoon Janusz Palikot. She has received massive media attention in Poland and abroad, and has used it to draw attention to the plight of sexual minorities in her conservative and Catholic country.

"Enough of this concealing of the truth," 57-year-old Grodzka told the Associated Press on Monday. "This group of people, even if small, has its rights and they should be respected. They should not be pushed into oblivion."

Donald Tusk celebrates after election
Prime Minister Donald Tusk's Civic Platform party will continue governingImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Grodzka, an activist and film producer, said the time has come for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Poles to enjoy the right to legally recognized partnerships, job security and state funding for sex change operations - her own was completed in Thailand last year.

Speaking in an interview with the Polish web portal Gadu-Gadu, Grodzka also said she planned on introducing a law similar to one passed recently in Australia that would allow Poles to select "male," "female" or "other" as their gender on their passports.

Uphill battle

The elections last week did not change the government's make-up - the centrist, pro-market Civic Platform is to continue governing under Prime Minister Donald Tusk with the support of the small, farm-based Polish People's Party.

But Palikot's Movement gained 40 seats in the 460-member parliament, making it the third-largest party after the conservative Law and Justice party - a sign that the social conservatism espoused by many Poles no longer has the influence it once did in politics.

Also elected to parliament was Poland's first openly gay man, activist Robert Biedron, who called the election a "sign that we are a different society now, open and tolerant."

Grodzka said she has received hundreds of friendly gestures from supporters and only one hostile phone call - evidence, she said, of a growing comfort among Poles with sexual minorities. Despite her party being a relatively small bloc in parliament, she said she was ready to represent her constituents when she is sworn in on November 8.

"I also will simply be myself, and I will show that unfavorable opinions about me are unjust," she said.

Author: Andrew Bowen (AP, dpa)
Editor: Mark Hallam