Current Affairs U.S. Congressman Cicilline in support of gay pride: being honest about who you are is an empowering process
The Czech capital is currently hosting Prague Pride 2013, a week-long series of gay pride events, including open-air performances, concerts, exhibitions and debates. Now in its third year, the LGBT festival has become the biggest of its kind in central and Eastern Europe, attracting thousands of visitors from at home and abroad. The theme of this year’s Prague Pride is “coming out” and one of the foreign guests who attended Tuesday’s debate on coming out in politics is U.S. Congressman David Cicilline. In a brief interview for Radio Prague he explained what motivated him to support the festival in person.
“Well, I think it is very important to support Prague Pride and pride celebrations around the world because they raise the visibility of our community and they make an important point of how critical it is that we recognize the rights of gays and lesbians to be treated equally under the law and to be free from discrimination of any kind. These celebrations are a wonderful opportunity for good public discussion about the issues involved and there’s a whole week of debates and talks and seminars on the importance of coming out and respecting equality for the gay and lesbian community. So I am thrilled to be here and very proud that our ambassador has been such a strong supporter of Prague Pride and of this whole week of events.”
You are taking part in a debate on the problems of coming out in politics. Do you feel that politicians and VIPs coming out would help ease the way for others - or is it that much harder for people in the spotlight?
“I think it is very important for everyone, in every walk of life to come out and be honest about who they are, but I think for individuals in positions of leadership it is particularly important. Not only for them, because it is a very empowering process to be comfortable with who you are and be honest about who you are, but it is also very important particularly for young people to see leaders in government and business and the arts and politics who are members of their community. I think it helps to bring visibility to our community and for people to understand that there are gay and lesbian people in synagogues and churches and workplaces and families. The more visible we are and the more that people understand that there are members of our community in all walks of life the more quickly we will achieve full equality for all gays and lesbian here and all over the world.”
What would you say to those who attack gay rights by saying that they undermine traditional family values?
“I would say that traditional family values means respecting members of your family and respecting individuals and treating everyone with dignity. Gay and lesbian individuals have families and raise children and support each other and what we want and what makes a family special is the presence of loving and caring relationships and they exist in lots of gay and lesbian couples. What we want is to encourage people to be honest about who they are and to be valued and we want individuals to be free from discrimination of any kind. I think that is what Prague Pride hopes to promote and I hope that by being here I am supporting that.”
The US has reacted strongly to Russia’s anti-gay legislation do you feel that this move merited a stronger international response?
“I hope the international condemnation of Russia’s recent enactment will continue to grow, I think it speaks very badly of the Russian government and the Russian president, I think it is contrary of most people’s understanding of basic human rights and I hope it will encourage a major, serious world-wide conversation about the importance of respecting gays and lesbians and granting them equal protection under the law.”