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Czech Republic in danger of following in the homophobic, transphobic footsteps of Poland and Hungary, campaigner warns

Nick Duffy August 17, 2020
People hold placards and rainbow flags during a Pride event in Czech capital Prague on August 10, 2019

People hold placards and rainbow flags during a Pride event in Czech capital Prague on August 10, 2019 (MICHAL CIZEK/AFP via Getty)

An equal marriage campaigner in the Czech Republic has warned that the country could follow in the footsteps of Poland and Hungary in embracing anti-LGBT+ hatred.

After years of progress towards equality across Europe, LGBT+ campaigners across the continent have faced a bruising few years – with politicians in Poland openly stoking anti-LGBT+ hatred to their own ends, while in Hungary the right-wing government led by Viktor Orban is legally erasing recognition of transgender people.

In the Czech Republic, campaigners are also fearful of a backslide on the issue.

Although registered partnerships are legal in the Czech Republic the country does not permit same-sex marriage or joint adoption by same-sex couples. Politicians have largely rejected calls for progress on the issues, while polling indicates that less than half of the population supports change.

In an interview with Radio Prague International, equal marriage campaigner Adéla Horáková warned about the danger of politicians tapping into homophobic rhetoric as a “pure calculation” to benefit themselves, as seen in Poland.

Czech Republic ‘in danger of following Poland and Hungary’

The campaigner, from Jsme fér (We Are Fair), said: “We are not Poland and Hungary, but there’s a real danger we might be walking down that path.

“If you look at some of the statements, for example, from some of the politicians from the Civic Democrats, acclaiming and congratulating the politics that Kaczynski is doing.

“For example, [Alexandr Vondra, MEP for the conservative Civil Democrats] is hailing their style. He knows very well what they are doing. He knows the hatred they are spreading, he knows the muzzling of democracy, or the deconstruction of democracy, they are doing, and knowing this he still calls their style ‘good conservative politics’.

“He’s certainly not the only one who is either admiring the style of Orban and Kaczynski or silently supporting it and maybe hoping to follow.

“So there is a very real danger we might be walking in the same direction and we need to very quickly, and very clearly, say that this is not where we’re going.”

Horáková continued: “We need to ask our politicians and hold them accountable for not making role models out of these countries.

“We can be civil, we can be neighbours, we certainly need to cooperate, but we need to say very clearly that this is not the direction in which we’re going.”

LGBT+ people face ‘uneducated indifference’, campaigner says.

The central European country sits on a striking legal dividing line on the issue of LGBT+ rights in Europe – bordered by Germany and Austria, which permit equal marriage, as well as Poland and Slovakia, which emphatically do not.

There is a stark divide in Europe on LGBT+ rights
There is a stark divide in Europe on LGBT+ rights

No former Warsaw Pact countries to the east of the Czech Republic have adopted equal marriage, while nearly all of western Europe with the exception of Italy and Switzerland have.

Horáková said that the current situation in the Czech Republic, however, is mostly one of indifference towards LGBT+ people.

She said: “It is often not a real respect, which is what we would need and want, but maybe an uneducated indifference, which we sometimes call tolerance – I’m not so sure if that’s the right word.

“But I would say that maybe uneducated indifference is a good place to start, on the way to respect.”

More: Czech Republic, Czechia

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