This week, Kafkadesk spoke with Renato de Leon from Prague Pride, which kicked off yesterday and runs all week until Sunday. We talked about what to expect for this year’s edition, and how LGBT rights have evolved in the Czech Republic and beyond during the past decade.
First things first: how has the Prague Pride been coping with the pandemic?
Prague Pride has coped with the pandemic in several ways: Obviously there have been some changes made that make this year’s events slightly different, but still exciting. Firstly, there won’t be the Parade, but there will be over 100 events still happening throughout the week that everyone can enjoy! Regulations are put into place such as proofs of Covid-19 tests and vaccinations.
We will have three short debates that will be streamed throughout the week on our Facebook page, and will also have Pride streamed Saturday afternoon on all of our social media pages with activists and influencers that are actively campaigning.
For those who might only be familiar with the Parade (cancelled this year), what else is happening throughout the week?
As stated earlier, there will be a number of cultural, educational, outdoor, and even online events throughout the week taking place in various locations such as Pride Village in Strelecky Ostrov or Pride House in Kasarna Karlin. There are countless activities such as exhibitions, runs, parties, workshops, and many more. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what you prefer to do, there is something offered for everyone and you can check out our program and see the schedule of events on our website or social media.
Anything special or completely new planned for this year’s edition?
What is new this year is something called Pride Walk, which is a sort of network of LGBT+ places throughout Prague including bars, restaurants, and clubs that offer special prices for cocktails, snacks, and happy hours during the Prague Pride Festival.
The initiative Reclaim Pride is planning a separate march on Saturday: what’s your stance on this?
Although we are not organizing nor promoting Reclaim Pride, we fully support any initiative that fights for LGBT+ rights in the Czech Republic.
How has the environment evolved for LGBT people in the Czech Republic since the first Prague Pride in 2011?
It has evolved tremendously in several aspects. There are a number of support groups and with the development of social media, people are less afraid to start conversations and speak their truth. One important example of how we see this evolution in the community is equal marriage, which still has not been legalized in the Czech Republic but is openly being debated and spoken about with politicians. It is important that we continue that conversation to create laws to support LGBT+ people.
During an interview with us, one of your partners recently called events like the Prague Pride a “double-edged sword”: meaning it can be good to increase the visibility of LGBT people and issues, but also exposes itself to being politicized (like what we see in Hungary or Poland). Any thoughts on this?
Prague Pride is not meant to be political nor is it an ideology: it is simply about the celebration of life and basic human rights. Of course, in order to gain those rights, politics ties into it in the sense that we need politicians to make decisions that will prevent discrimination and create laws that assure equality for LGBT+ people. Most of the time we see the media report Pride as something it’s not, ignoring the families that attend, the allies, and all the other workshops, cultural and art programmes, and support groups that are also a large part of what makes Pride, particularly Prague Pride, special.
Do you cooperate in any way with some of your counterparts in neighbouring countries, including Poland and Hungary?
We cooperate closely with other Prides in Europe. This year especially, we really wanted to highlight the situation in Hungary and try to support the LGBT+ people over there. We have a fundraising campaign and sent half of it to Budapest Pride to support their fight for equal rights and try to protect them as much as possible from discrimination, because the situation over there is really terrible at the moment.
There were high hopes among the LGBT community that the bill on gay marriage would finally be voted on this year, which it didn’t. Any hopes for the near future?
At the moment we have elections in the autumn, so there are not high hopes that the bill will pass through the legislative process this year. From what we know, Jsme Fer is campaigning and asking all political parties to state whether they’re in favor or not by underscoring the ones who are supporters and the ones who are against the bill. They have a series of debates with politicians in different parts of the Czech Republic.
There was also a debate with political leaders in Prague yesterday in Pride House. So, the hope is that as many people as possible are going to vote and know who these supporters of equal marriage are and with that, we’ll hopefully have a new parliament that’ll do that job, discuss the bill, and pass it through. The process is lengthy but we are optimistic that in the near future with a new parliament, it would be possible.