For the first time, a transsexual woman and an openly gay man were sworn into the Polish parliament on Tuesday, as Anna Grodzka Robert and Biedron took their elected seats in Warsaw.
Both Grodzka and Biedron are members of the new progressive party, Palikot's Movement, and won their seats after an Oct. 9 election.
Traditionally, Poland is a conservative, Catholic country. In the post-Soviet era, three of four presidents came from conservative parties and as of 2007, more than 88 percent of Poles were Roman Catholics. The country is one of the most devout in all of Europe.
But Grodzka and Biedron's presence in parliament, as well as Palikot's ascension to become the third largest party in parliament, indicate that the country is changing.
Enough of this concealing of the truth, Grodzka said in an interview the The Associated Press. This group of people, even if small, has its rights and they should be respected. They should not be pushed into oblivion.
Palikot's Movement has put promoting gay rights and abolishing Poland's ban on abortion high up on its priorities list. Additionally, Grodzka runs the Trans-Fuzja foundation, which supports and lobbies for the rights of 1,000 transgender people in Poland.
When entering parliament for the first time as a lawmaker, Grodzka was greeted by her fellow MPs, many of whom went up to shake her hand. She was also introduced to Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who warmly greeted Grodzka as well.
“It is a symbolic moment, but we owe this symbolism not to me but to the people of Poland because they made their choice,” Grodzka told the Associated Press. “They wanted a modern Poland, a Poland open to variety, a Poland where all people would feel good regardless of their differences. I cannot fail them in their expectations.”
Grodzka and Biedron sat next to each other during the proceedings.