In March of 2006 Czech homosexuals celebrated an important victory. After seven years of intensive lobbying the Czech Parliament finally passed a law on same-sex partnerships or so called gay-marriages, overriding president Klaus’s veto by a narrow majority. A year and a half later the number of registered partnerships between same-sex couples in the Czech Republic has reached nearly five hundred. Ruth Fraňková spoke to Slavomír Goga from the Gay and Lesbian League and started by asking whether the new law had made a significant difference to the
Close to 500 homosexual couples have entered into same-sex partnerships since a law enabling so-called gay marriages came into force in July of 2006. According to statistics 353 male couples and 134 lesbian couples entered into a same-sex partnership, 43 of them were foreign nationals who came here specifically to tie the knot. Up until 1961 homosexuality was considered a crime punishable by law. The law on gay marriage was rejected seven times by Parliament before finally winning approval.
Marek Podlaha, formerly head of an NGO assisting Romany employment, is to become head of a government agency aimed at fighting the exclusion of Romanies from society and the creation of Roma ghettoes. The agency is to start work in February and will be answerable directly to Džamila Stehlíková, the minister in charge of human rights and ethnic minorities.
2006 saw the launch of “Increasing Adaptability of Disabled Persons”, a new project in the Czech Republic aimed at helping the disabled to improve their position on the jobs market. Unemployment among the disabled remains a serious problem, far higher than among the rest of the population. The aim of the project was to stress re-education and empowerment: over fifteen organizations cooperated to create and test pilot programmes to help the disadvantaged “help themselves”.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has launched a new programme to make it easier for Ukrainians to find work legally in the Czech Republic. Under the programme, three job centres in Ukraine will be linked with five such centres around the Czech Republic. Staff in the Ukrainian centres will give free advice on finding work in the Czech Republic and help with filling-out forms and applications. The project has been coordinated so as to try and shut out the mafia – it is thought that many Ukrainians are found jobs in the Czech Republic by illegal agents to whom they then have to give a percentage of their earnings. After Slovaks, Ukrainians are the second biggest group of foreign workers in the Czech Republic. At the end of 2007, over 61,000 Ukrainians were registered as working in the country.
The organiser of a neo-Nazi march banned by the authorities in Plzeň was a member of the governing Civic Democrats, the news website iDnes.cz reported. A spokesperson for the party said Václav Bureš had been expelled in January, after it emerged that he was behind the march, which was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the first transport of Jews from the city in 1942. The far-right gathering was banned last Thursday, two days before it was due to take place. In the end around 200 neo-Nazis attended a demonstration in Prague, which passed off peacefully.
Homelessness remains a complex and vexing problem in the Czech Republic, especially in Prague, despite notable gains and successes by NGOs as well as the city. A year ago, the Czech capital saw the opening of a new shelter on the Vltava River, adding 250 beds to already existing sites run by organisations such as Naděje and the Salvation Army. But with a homeless population of at least 2,000 (by conservative estimates - some social workers double the number) it’s clear more needs to be done. The question is "what".
Two Poles have been charged with propagating a movement repressing human rights and freedoms after being caught making the Nazi salute in the streets of Plzen. Only about three dozen neo-Nazis turned up in Plzen on Saturday after local authorities banned a planned march by far-right groups. Instead a gathering of some 300 right-wing extremists took place on Prague’s Palacký Square, the city’s version of speaker’s corner in London’s Hyde Park. Despite fears of possible clashes with anarchists the gathering ended without incident.
A gathering of neo-Nazis on Prague’s Palacký Square on Saturday ended without incident. Around 250 far right extremists met on the square which functions as the city’s version of speaker’s corner in London’s Hyde Park, where demonstrators can meet without permission from the authorities. A police spokesperson said, however, that two skinheads were detained for carrying weapons. Extra officers were on duty in Prague today as extremist groups were expected to stage a rally in the city. The neo-Nazis had originally wanted to march through Plzeň, west Bohemia, but the municipality banned them from doing so.
In Plzeň, where the neo-Nazis’ march was originally to take place, three individuals have been arrested for making the Hitler salute. All three detained are foreign nationals from Poland. Hundreds of police officers were drafted into the west Bohemian town earlier this morning to break up any demonstrations held there by right-wing radicals. Far-right groups were planning to march through Plzeň on the anniversary of the deportation of the town’s Jews to the concentration camp Terezín. Plzeň authorities had originally allowed the march to take place, but on Thursday, in the face of strong media pressure, the municipality outlawed the march.
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