By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com June 17 2013 12:27 PM ET
Poland's first openly gay member of Parliament was assaulted outside a café in Warsaw after he attended the city's annual Pride parade Saturday, reports PinkNews.
Robert Biedron, who was elected to parliament in 2011, says he and a group of friends went to a cafe after the parade, where an identified man began harassing them.
"An aggressive man insulted us, using homophobic statements," Biedron told a local news organization, according to PinkNews. "He began to choke one of my friends and punched him in the face. When he recognized me, he spat in my face, raised his fists, and kicked me in the stomach."
PinkNews reports that the assailant fled but was quickly arrested by local police.
Despite the homophobic assault, Biedron remains optimistic about the future of LGBT rights in Poland. He noted that this year's Pride parade was missing the antigay protesters who have in years past thrown bottles and stones at the LGBT Poles marching for equality.
Earlier this year, former president Lech Walesa, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and pioneering labor leader, refused to apologize for antigay comments he made on a TV program saying that gay and lesbian people do not deserve equal rights and should "sit behind a wall" in Parliament.
In response, Biedron and Anna Grodzka, Poland's first openly transgender lawmaker, staged a protest where they sat in the front row of the House of Parliament. Both Biedron and Grodzka are members of the country's socially liberal Palikot Movement.
Pro-equality legislators introduced several civil partnership bills in parliament earlier this year, but those were defeated by conservative MPs citing a provision in the Polish constitution which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, according to PinkNews.