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Prague to host its first gay pride, Czech president defends anti-gay sentiments

Monday, August 8, 2011
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PRAGUE, Czech Republic — 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 center of the city on Saturday, August 13.

In a joint statement of support issued late last week, ambassadors from thirteen embassies representing the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, and Estonia, publicly endorsed the efforts of the organizers 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 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 criticized the planned 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 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, telling Ceske Noviny that in his opinion the event should not be held under the auspices of the city’s mayor.

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