The lower house of the Czech Parliament is expected to vote on a bill on same-sex registered partnerships this month. Last year, a similar bill was defeated by just one vote. But this time, a homosexual rights group in Prague has decided to take action within the Chamber of Deputies and has come up with an unusual method to rally MPs' support.
I'm sitting here with Tereza Kodickova from the Gay and Lesbian League in Prague and in my hand is a black-and-white comic book featuring a cactus and a bonsai tree. Tereza, what's the comic about?
"Well, these two plants are actually gay and they are living together. Since we are trying to push the registered partnership legislation through, we are hoping that these two plants are going to explain to the MPs, why the legislation is so important for us."
The MPs got copies of the comic last week.
"Yes. There are two sets of pictures. One looks at the situation prior to registered partnerships being approved and the other set of pictures looks at the situation afterwards. So the illustration shows you what the plants - or the people - cannot do right now and what they could be doing if the legislation were in place."
What are the most important points in the bill on same-sex registered partnerships?
"Well, it doesn't offer us much but there are things like inheritance rights, the mutual duty to support and maintain each other, the right to information when one of the partners is sick, and then there is the right to refuse testimony [against one's partner] in courts. These are the most important points."
Are you optimistic that the comic will help increase the number of supporters in the lower house?
"We do hope so because it's different. It's not a memorandum, not serious political talk, it's short, and self explanatory. So, we do hope that it's going to help. Although, whether the MPs are actually going to pass the bill, you never know until the last minute. That's because this piece of legislation is not voted on according to political lines. It's depending on every MPs private opinion. So, we never know."
How do Czechs in general receive homosexuality? Do gays and lesbians feel comfortable enough to come out?
"They definitely do not feel comfortable to come out. We don't have any violent homophobia but still gays and lesbians do not come out. I personally think that, to a great extent, it's just their fear and if they tried, they would be surprised that they would be much better accepted than they fear. Not coming out actually doesn't give the majority the opportunity to face their prejudices and stereotypes - the majority says 'okay, let them do whatever they want but we don't want to see them doing it'."
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