Czech Pres clashes with ambassadors over Gay Pride

Gay Pride march in the Czech capital has already created a diplomatic controversy

Planned Gay Pride march in the Czech capital has already created something that can be, with some degree of exaggeration, called “a diplomatic controversy”.

The issue started when Petr Hájek, the head of the Presidential Office, called the participants of the planned march “deviant citizens”. Eventually, Czech President Václav Klaus defended his aide’s views, arguing that “the right to agree or disagree with the Prague Pride demonstration is among basic rights of the citizen of our country.”

Klaus as well as some of his advisers and senior officials of the Presidential Office are known for their controversial opinions ranging from environmental issues, political correctness, foreign policy, European integration, and other topics. For example, Hájek himself has criticized the Darwinist theory as “left-wing nonsense”, and – more recently – argued that Osama bin Laden was “a media fiction”.

Ambassadors of the US, Canada, and some European countries reacted by publishing an open letter in which they declared their support to the Prague Pride march.

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President Klaus condemned their step, called it an unprecedented move, “not remembered by any of us.” The president argued that the ambassadors should be aware that the Gay Pride controversy is not about a possible ban of the event, but about the fact that Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda openly expressed support for the event.

Svoboda is a member of the Civic Democratic Party, the ruling right-wing party founded by Klaus at the beginning of the 1990s.

“I cannot imagine some Czech ambassador daring to interfere with a petition in the internal political discussion of any democratic country anywhere in the world,” Klaus added.

British ambassador in Prague Sian MacLeod said to that the ambassadors stand their ground. “There is no reason why our support (to the Gay Pride event) should be interpreted as a critique of Czech institutions or the response to a statement of somebody in the Czech Republic,” the British embassy said in its statement. “Embassies release statements of support for similar events in many countries, including the Central European region,” they added.

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However, the Czech president is not the only Czech senior politician to dislike the ambassadors’ initiative. “It is counterproductive and redundant to express support to the rights that nobody deny or suppress in the Czech Republic. Nobody prevents these groups from enjoying their rights and expressing them publicly,” said Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg in his official statement, adding that the ambassadors’ step, deemed “unnecessary” by the minister, may be even interpreted as the ambassadors’ “meddling with internal affairs (of the Czech Republic).

The Gay Pride march will be the first event of its kind to be held in Prague. It is planned on Saturday 13 August.

The Czech Republic has already seen a Gay Pride march though – in Brno in 2008. The march was marked by protests by far-right and Christian groups.

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