On Saturday, Czechs went to the polls in a dramatically close race and chose “democratic opposition” over the currently ruling populist billionaire Prime Minister, Andrej Babis. While many celebrate this as a victory for democracy in the Czech Republic (Czechia), it is bittersweet for the LGBTQ community fearing the most conservative Parliament in the history of our country.
There are many reasons to celebrate, Babis has lost a majority, the nationalist ultra-right party (SPD) has lost two seats, the Communist Party has for the first time not managed to get into the Parliament and we will likely have a pro-European Union (EU), pro-NATO government. However, the cost of it all is the progress and possible regression in the rights of queer persons. As it stands, Czechia is the 7th worst when it comes to LGBTQ legislation in the EU. We do not have marriage equality, there are no hate crime laws protecting our often targeted community and our country continues to forcibly sterilize trans persons if they want their legal gender changed.
Marriage equality serves as a good indicator of the current state of LGBTQ acceptance in Czech politics.
The marriage equality campaign “Jsme Fer” has organized a group of Parliament members (MPs) and put forward an Equal Marriage Bill that most of our community across the spectrum rallied behind, symbolizing a turning point for LGBTQ rights and acceptance in the country.
Yet, over three years passed and the bill was buried with the ending of the Parliamentary cycle. Now, the new Parliament seems much less likely to table the bill again. Out of the main advocates for queer rights, few have been re-elected with its main proponents Frantisek Kopriva and Barbora Koranova not making the cut. On the other hand, the ultra-conservative Christian party (KDU-CSL) has seen its best results since 1989, managing to get 23 seats in the chamber. As it stands, there are between 50-55 (out of 200) pro-equality MPs, with many who publicly oppose it and most who refuse to take a stance on our rights.
Out of the five parties that are likely to form the new right-leaning government, only one, the Pirate Party has been firmly advocating for LGBTQ rights (with only four MPs). And many from our community are worried that there is a real possibility of regression due to the strong influence of the Christian democrats and the ultra-right openly queer-phobic SPD in opposition.
There are many laws in the air, not just marriage equality and our community is now becoming the target of hateful attacks that we have no legal protection from.