Monday, August 8, 2011

Brody's Notes... Foreign Missions Support Prague Pride As Czech President Defends Anti-Gay Sentiments

By Brody Levesque | PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC -- In a joint statement of support issued late last week, ambassadors from the embassies representing Belgium, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, and Estonia were joined by the ambassadors from the United States, Canada, Germany, and Spain, who publicly endorsed the efforts of the organisers of Prague Pride and the Czech Republic's LGBTQ community.
"Our governments seek to combat such discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by promoting the human rights of all people," the statement read. 
"We express our solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities in the Czech Republic, supporting their right to use this occasion to march together peacefully and lawfully, in order to raise awareness of the specific issues that affect them."
The Czech Republic's capital city is hosting its first ever Gay Pride event starting Wednesday- the five-day Prague Pride Festival of Tolerance- to be held from August 10-14 and which will culminate with a carnival parade in the centre of the city on Saturday, August 13.
The festival is held under the aegis of Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, and Prague One's (the city's historical centre) Mayor Oldrich Lomecky, both of whom have come under fire from a senior deputy to Czech President Vaclav Klaus.
Deputy Chancellor Petr Hajek sharply criticised Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda (senior government Civic Democratic Party, ODS) and chairman of the Prague ODS branch Boris Stastny for having supported the planned homosexual event.
In a recent interview with Ceske Noviny, the leading Czech newspaper, Hajek referred to the Pride parade as “a political demonstration ... of a world in which sexual or any other deviation becomes virtue” and he also called homosexuals "deviant fellow citizens." He also called on Prague mayor Svoboda, who has supported the event, to leave the ruling conservative Civic Democratic Party.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has backed up the controversial statements by Hajek regarding Prague's Pride celebration telling Ceske Noviny that in his opinion the event should not be held under the auspices of the city's mayor.
The major political party opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) and the junior ruling coalition, the Public Affairs party (VV), have both condemned Hajek’s comments calling on the president to speak out against them- the president has refused:
“I resolutely reject the demands voiced by the CSSD and the VV that I distance myself from the statements by Petr Hajek that he made in connection with Mayor Svoboda’s patronage of the Prague Pride event,” Klaus said in a statement released on his website.
“Though the statements were not mine and I would probably choose slightly different words,” he said, “I do not feel any pride in the event either.”