Prague Pride March 2019. via Raymond Johnston

Prague Pride March attracts 30,000 supporters, but faces minor protests

The annual Prague Pride March was met with small protests but otherwise was a success

The annual Prague Pride March on August 10 attracted approximately 30,000 participants, despite some rain. The march, and a week of Prague Pride events ahead of it celebrate the LGBT+ community. The number was a bit below the 40,000 in last year’s parade but above the 8,000 who participated in 2011.

While support came from a wide array of groups and organizations including Prague City Hall, which flew a rainbow flag all week, there were a few incidents of protest. These, however, did not overshadow the events and were hardly noticed.

The parade was led by two cars with grand marshals: actor Jiří Hromada, politician Karla Šlechtová (ANO) and Roma activist David Tišer. IT firms Google and Microsoft had floats. Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib and Czech Pirate Party leader Ivan Bartoš also participated with a float.

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Rainbow flag at Prague City Hall. via Raymond Johnston

There was a large delegation from Taiwan, the first Asian nation to allow same-sex marriage, among dozens of participating groups and firms.

As the marchers gathered in Wenceslas Square, there was a small group of people by the statue of St Wenceslas with signs saying “Česko není sodoma” (the Czech Republic isn’t Sodom), and other signs claiming God opposed LGBT+ rights. There were also a person with a Confederate flag and white pride t-shirt, and people with flags for right-wing groups. Police kept them separated from the marchers.

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During the parade about 10 people from a far-right group stood blocking the parade route on Revoluční Street. Several other members of the far-right group were filming the incident with smartphones, but neither side resorted to violence.

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There was a large turnout despite the rain. via Raymond Johnston

The group eventually moved aside after about five to 10 minutes just as a van with riot police arrived, and the parade carried on.

“A group of about 10 people tried to stop the procession, but the police diverted them aside and the procession continued,” police spokesman Jan Daněk said.

This is not the first time a right wing group tried to stop the march. In 2014 a group wearing orange and black St George ribbons, popular in Russia, stopped the parade and had to be carried off one by one into a police van.

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Protesters block the Prague Pride March. via Raymond Johnston

Still-unidentified protesters on the night before this year’s parade also poured about 20 liters of cooking oil on the steps leading up to Letná Park, where the parade concluded with an open-air party. The city’s cleaning services managed to remove the oil before the parade arrived. There was no problem in climbing the steps, and no visible evidence of the oil or the cleaning.

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Earlier in Pride Week, at about 10 pm August 8, someone lit a rainbow flag on fire on Most Legií (Legions Bridge) and shot roman candles at random people. The island under the bridge, Střelecký ostrov, was a center of events for the festival. Police searched for the perpetrator, but without success.

Prague Pride public relations manager Bohdana Rambousková said the incident was atypical, as nothing like this has happened in the history of Pride Week.

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Czech Pirate Party leader Ivan Bartoš poses with fans. via Raymond Johnston

“It is possible that they were just exuberant, drunken guests of some nearby restaurant, so we do not want to make any conclusions at all and we are waiting for evaluation by the police. In any case, there have been no such incidents in recent years, and we firmly believe that this was a unique matter,” she said.

Several rainbow flags also disappeared from Most Legií and Čechův most (Svatopluk Čech Bridge), thought it is not clear of this was a protest, people taking souvenirs, or due to some other cause like high winds. The Prague Pride Facebook page encouraged people to buy the flags from their e-shop rather than risk injury by climbing poles to take them.

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The first march in 2011 faced protests from groups claiming to be defending marriage and the family. They were encouraged by then-President Václav Klaus. Protests diminished after the first year, when it was clear that the pro-LGBT+ side greatly outnumbered those against it.

Marchers coped with the rain. via Raymond Johnston

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