Bratislava, Slovakia – Slovakia’s cultural scene and LGBT activists are up in arms against Culture Minister Ľubica Laššáková (Smer).
Culture Minister under fire for cuts in funding for cultural and LGBT organizations
According to local Sme daily, Slovakia’s Culture Ministry recently decided to cut grants for priority projects of several prominent cultural organizations, including the Slovak National Gallery, the Slovak National Museum and Kunsthalle Bratislava. Reacting to the public outcry, the Culture Ministry “categorically denied” allegations it cut the overall budget of those institutions.
According to the reports, the ministry also refused, in the first call, to approve funding for projects submitted by Slovak LGBT organizations, although more than half of dozen of them had been recommended by governmental experts in the commission stage. The ministry, once again, denies any discrimination: “The Culture Minister herself will oversee the second call so that no disadvantaged group asking for the grant feels discriminated against”, a ministry spokesperson said.
“Cultural ghettos” and LGBT events in jeopardy
But according to LGBT NGOs, including Initiative Inakosť and Dúhový PRIDE Bratislava who issued a joint press release (in Slovak), the ministry refused to grant funding for long-running LGBT events without any explanation and also changed, on May 23, the conditions to fulfill in order to make it harder for LGBT projects to receive governmental grants in the future.
According to them, these new rules will result in establishing “cultural ghettos” and several projects organized in Slovakia for many years without any problem, like the Slovak Queer Film Festival and Rainbow Pride, are now in jeopardy.
Activists call for resignation of Slovakia’s Culture Minister
Last week, Slovak activists and NGOs took to the street and called for the resignation of Minister Ľubica Laššáková. On May 16, a petition, signed by more than 8.700 people at the time of writing, was also launched criticizing the “incompetence” of the current leadership and urging the Culture Minister to step down.
“She has definitely lost the trust of members of the cultural scene”, according to one organizer of the ‘We Stand by Culture’ platform, which organized the protest on May 22 in front of the Culture Ministry in Bratislava.
“By taking such steps, she ignores the needs of professionals and polarizes Slovak society”, some protesters claimed.