Czech Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová has stirred heated debate on the Czech political scene by standing up for two students who were banned from wearing headscarves at a medical school in Prague. Politicians across the political spectrum as well as President Miloš Zeman have criticized her move, arguing that foreigners should respect Czech cultural traditions.
Scores of Ukrainians marked the 23rd anniversary of their country’s independence in Prague on Sunday. With some participants wearing Ukrainian folk costumes or carrying national symbols, the group marched across Charles Bridge to náměstí Kinských in Prague 5, where they laid wreathes at a monument to Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko. The gathering was intended to celebrate Ukraine’s independence in 1991 and to highlight the current crisis in the country, where armed conflict with pro-Russian rebels is continuing in the east. A further gathering of Ukrainians in Prague was planned for Wenceslas Square later on Sunday.
Along with Charter 77 and the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Persecuted, the Czechoslovak Helsinki Committee was a key dissident organisation in the communist period, pressuring the government to adhere to its human rights commitments. Today known as the Czech Helsinki Committee, it is still active, advocating for people who often have nowhere else to turn. I discussed the committee’s work with its director, Lucie Rybová. But I first asked her about the reasons for its establishment, in November 1988.
Asylum applications from Ukrainians in the Czech Republic have jumped this year due to the crisis in the country. The Ministry of Interior says applications so far this year total 250, that is already a third higher than for the whole of 2013. It added that applications from Ukrainians are currently running at their highest level for the past six years. The current applicants include some of the injured who were airlifted to the Czech Republic in special humanitarian flights. Ukrainians already represent one of the biggest foreign communities in the Czech Republic with an estimated 112,000 living here according to the statistical office. The United Nations estimates 10,000 Ukrainians have left their homes due to the conflict, most of them relocating to safer parts of the country.
The first year of a new Roma-themed film festival is to kick-off at the end of September, reports Denik.cz. The festival, entitled Čačikano, will take place at the Světozor cinema in central Prague. According to festival organiser Alžběta Jílková, the event is designed to highlight the richness of Roma culture and also overturn prevalent stereotypes.
The Czech Republic has the highest number of indebted inhabitants from socially excluded areas among all of the central and eastern European countries, daily Lidové noviny reported on Friday, referring to a poll conducted by the Median agency. According to the results of the survey, more than a third of the socially excluded have a bank loan or have borrowed money elsewhere. In other countries, this number stands at around 20 percent, the daily writes. Nearly a fourth of the inhabitants of the socially excluded areas in the Czech Republic have borrowed from dubious sources.
Conservatives but also members of extremist groups are reportedly planning to turn up on Saturday at Prague’s Wenceslas Square to actively demonstrate against the Prague Pride Festival which celebrates GLBT culture. No such demonstration, however, has been given approval by the city, according to the Czech News Agency. Prague Pride wraps up on Saturday with a parade from the centre of the city to Prague’s Letná Park. It is estimated that up to 20,000 people could take part. Several hundred police will monitor the route of the parade to try and prevent any incidents. Conservatives groups have consistently slammed the festival since it began four years ago, alleging it went against ‘family values’ and that participants were‘deviants’.
Monday sees the start of the 2014 Prague Pride Festival celebrating LGBT culture. The festival will see more than 100 events including a parade through the centre of the city. A performance by groups such as the Pet Shop Boys is also scheduled. This year's inception is the first to be taking place under the auspices of a government minister - Jiří Dienstbier,the minister for human rights. The overall theme of the festival is to rise up against homophobia.
A group of Czech MPs are planning to put forward legislation that would allow gays and lesbians living in registered partnership to adopt their partner’s child. MP Radka Maxová from the ANO party told reporters on Wednesday the bill, which should enter the legislative process later this week, was needed to allow registered partners take care of their children without fear of legal consequences. The legislation would however not make it possible for same-sex couples to adopt children from children’s homes and other institutions. There are around 900 children living in same-sex households in the Czech Republic, according to 2011 population census data.
The Czech government has formally begun preparing new legislation, which will assist socially disadvantaged groups in finding employment in Czech businesses and public institutions. Presently, employers seeking to add handicapped or homeless staff to their ranks do so without a precise legal framework.
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