Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Controversy does little to temper gay pride

Thousands marched in Prague on Saturday at the climax of the first gay pride festival in the Czech capital, defying a fine drizzle and counter demonstrations by conservative groups.

With many in fancy dress, blowing whistles and waving flags they gathered in the centre of the city before setting off along the main avenues to the sound of music from loudspeakers mounted on vans.

Attracting participants from other parts of Europe as well as the Czech Republic, the parade was to end on an island in the Vltava River for a series of concerts and shows.

Some 300 police were on duty to prevent the sort of clashes that marred a gay march in Brno, the country’s second city, in 2008.

Controversy
The five-day festival, which began Wednesday, sparked controversy long before it started as a top aide to conservative President Vaclav Klaus labelled gays as deviants.

Petr Hajek, Klaus’s deputy chancellor famous for rejecting Darwinism and for calling Osama bin Laden “media fiction,” slammed Prague mayor Bohuslav Svoboda for granting support to the festival of “deviant fellow citizens.”

Klaus then backed Hajek, saying the parade was a manifestation of “homosexualism,” not homosexuality, and that he perceived “deviant” as a “neutral word in terms of value.”

This prompted a joint statement from the ambassadors of Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States, who voiced support for the festival.

Klaus termed the statement an “unprecedented step”, while Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg called the spat “unfortunate.”

“It is counter-productive and unnecessary to express support for rights which no one in the Czech Republic denies,” he said in a statement.

‘Extremely homophobic’
Gay Czech former tennis star Martina Navratilova criticised Klaus in a message to the parade Saturday for his “extremely homophobic and unenlightened remarks.”

“Unfortunately it seems President Klaus just doesn’t get it,” she said, adding, “Come on Mr. President, join the parade and see what we are all about.”

The head of the organising committee, Czeslaw Walek, told AFP, “We are quite surprised by this politicising … We just wanted to have a carnival parade.”

The festival offered about 80 events at over 30 locations in and near Prague, including concerts, films, seminars, exhibitions and parties.

Young Christian Democrats, an anti-abortion movement and the far-right DSSS called counter-demonstrations Saturday in support of traditional and family values. — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Life Esidimeni inquest postponed until August 30

The lawyer for the bereaved families argued that Dr Makgabo Manamela’s requests for postponements have a negative impact on the families of the deceased who seek closure

RECAP: Mbeki tells ANC that land without compensation goes against...

‘This would be a very serious disincentive to investment,’ says Thabo Mbeki in a document arguing that the ANC should not proceed with the Constitutional amendment of section 25

More top stories

ANC Integrity Committee recommends Zweli Mkhize step aside

ANC sources say the report by the committee will be tabled at the next national executive committee meeting

Police union condemns robbery of Northern Cape police station, blames...

Three men made off with shotguns, R5 rifles, pistols and ammunition after pouncing on the Tsineng police station

Rivals agree on new measures to end Cape Town taxi...

But key route remains closed and affected areas halt issuing of operating licences

Magashule claims his suspension of Ramaphosa was lawful

In his application for leave to appeal the high court judgment, Magashule argues that the court erred in holding that Ramaphosa’s suspension was not lawful without giving any explanation for that conclusion
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×