An ultra-conservative citizen’s initiative, D.O.S.T., has delivered an open letter of protest to official supporters of an upcoming gay rights march in Prague. Initiative leader Ladislav Bátora, who is also an advisor to the education minister, called upon Prague Mayor Bohuslav Sobota and American Ambassador Norman Eisen on Monday to renounce their support for the Prague Pride march, saying the protestors’ demands go beyond the limits of tolerance. Mr. Bátora, who once stood as an independent candidate for the now-defunct far-right National Party, also criticised the ambassador for “meddling in the internal affairs” of the Czech Republic. Last Friday, President Václav Klaus backed comments made by his deputy chief of staff, Petr Hájek, who referred to homosexuals as “deviants”. On the same day, thirteen ambassadors to Prague, among them those of Germany, the UK, the United States and Denmark, signed a joint letter expressing their support for the marchers.
Also regarding Mr Bátora, an association of WWII political prisoners and their descendents has asked Prime Minister Petr Nečas to review supporters of extremist opinions in the Ministry of Education. In an open letter to the prime minister, the association says that available information shows Mr Bátora to be a proponent of anti-Semitism and fascism who has consorted with neo-Nazis. A series of associations including Amnesty International, the Czech Helsinki Committee and Romea have made similar complaints in recent days. Education Minister Josef Dobeš has defended his advisor, calling him a conscientious nationalist and Catholic. Bátora himself says that his security clearance itself shows he is neither an extremist nor a racist.
With two more days left to go before it begins, the gay and lesbian community’s Prague Pride festival has stirred up considerable controversy. The event, held under the auspices of Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, has come under fire from public figures such as the head of the ultra-conservative Civic Initiative D.O.S.T. Ladislav Bátora, the controversial presidential aide Petr Hájek, and even the president himself.
Czech President Václav Klaus on Friday backed anti-gay comments made by his deputy chief of staff, Petr Hájek who said a planned gay pride march in Prague was an event held by “deviant people”. President Klaus “strongly rejected” a demand from two Czech political parties to distance himself from those comments. In a statement, Mr Klaus said he felt “no pride” about the Prague Pride march scheduled for August 14, adding that while homosexuality deserved protection, “homosexualism” did not. The Czech president also said that for him the word “deviant” was neutral.
Embassies of 13 countries on Friday expressed support for the planned Prague Pride gay parade. In a joint statement, the ambassadors of the United States, the UK, Germany, Canada, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Switzerland said they supported the right of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals to hold a peaceful march through the city to raise awareness of the problems they face. The British embassy, which initiated the joint statement, said it was not related to the position of President Václav Klaus and his aide, Petr Hájek.
The Czech government will not comply with the European Commission’s call to revise its national strategy on inclusion of Romany citizens, the environment minister, who was filling in for Prime Minister Petr Nečas, announced in the Senate on Thursday. The Senate backed the government’s stance that its Concept for Romany Integration for the years 2010-2013 already included the demands made by the European Commission, such as improving access to education for Romany children, increasing the minority’s employment opportunities and furnishing better housing conditions for the community. The Czech Senate does not consider a joint strategy of all EU member countries an efficient solution to the current situation of the union’s Romany community. Senator Jaroslav Kubera said that while Romanies had the same opportunities as everyone else in this country, they did not know how to take advantage of them, a fact that he says they can only partially be blamed for.
An eighteen-year-old student from Prague, Tran Thi Thuy Linh, took home the Czech Miss Vietnam 2011 award on Wednesday evening. Seven finalists competed for the prize, which organizers say aims to promote the culture of the Vietnamese minority and help integrate it. Tran Thi Thuy Linh is set to travel to Berlin on Saturday, where she will represent the Czech Republic in the Miss Vietnam in Europe competition.
Czech human rights activists on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Petr Nečas
and the leaders of the other two coalition parties to push for the removal
of the controversial right-wing figure, Ladislav Bátora, from his post of
human resources director at the Education Ministry. In an open letter,
members of the Czech Helsinki Committee, Amnesty International, Romea, IQ
Roma Servis and others said Mr Bátora was linked to racist and
anti-Semitic groups and asked the officials to make sure right-wing
extremists do not get jobs in state administration.
Ladislav Bátora, who is a staunch opponent of multiculturalism, feminism and antidiscrimination, ran in 2006 for a seat in the lower house on the ballot of the extremist National Party. In April, he became an advisor to Education Minister Josef Dobeš, from the Public Affairs party, who earlier this month appointed him the head of the ministry’s human resources department. Ladislav Bátora has rejected all accusations of racism and extremism.
The Czech Constitutional Court has just issued a verdict in favor of a mother fighting to prevent her ten-year-old son – a perfectly healthy boy -from being returned to a psychiatric hospital. The boy had already spent six months there during his parents’ custody battle on the basis of a previous court ruling. The court dealt with the case at the instigation of the boy’s father who demanded that the boy be taken from his mother’s care because she was biased against him and was having a bad influence on the child.
An appellate court in Olomouc has handed out sentences of five and six years to two men who beat to death a homeless man in the city of Prostějov late last year. The two men had appealed an earlier ruling by a regional court which sent the main culprit to a year and a half in prison and gave his accomplice a suspended sentence only. Both appealed the verdict, which was benevolent on the grounds of the victims poor state of health which the judge said had contributed to his death. The appellate court ruled the two men were to be held fully responsible for the result of the grievous injuries they has inflicted.
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