Jiří Dienstbier, the Social Democratic candidate for the 2013 presidential elections, has expressed his support for new laws to permit gay couples to both enter into registered partnerships and adopt children in the Czech Republic. Discussing his position, Dienstbier stated that he believed that no institute could supplant an upbringing provided to a child by a stable couple. Recent opinion polls have Dientsbier achieving around 6% support while independent candidate Jan Fischer leads the pack with 34.5%, according to the Meridian agency.
Fuel prices have risen sharply in the last week with the most popular type, called “Natural 95”, increasing in average price by 58 halers to 37.40 crowns per litre. Other fuels such as diesel have also seen a similar trend. In Prague, prices have risen to as high as 38.2 crowns for “Natural 95”, while the Ústecký region has the lowest prices in the country, around two and a half crowns cheaper per litre. The rises reflect increasing crude oil prices on the global market – the Czech Republic has seen a consistent rise in fuel prices since mid-July and an overall trend of rising prices since January 2009.
The Czech Senate on Wednesday rejected a controversial church property restitution bill that would give the Catholic Church and other religious groups some 135 billion crowns worth of property, most of it as financial compensation, in return for possessions confiscated by the communist regime in the 1950s. The upper house, controlled by the opposition Social Democrats and Communists, rejected the bill with 43 votes out of 77 present. The opposition sees the legislation as unfair, and claims it would return more property than originally taken away. The bill will now return to the lower house; Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Wednesday expressed confidence that coalition MPs will find the 101 votes to overturn the Senate veto.
The Czech Helsinki Committee, an NGO focusing on human rights, has found that an eighth of Czech advertisements for job applications that it sampled were discriminatory. The organisation looked at ads placed on the popular jobs website prace.cz and found that many, thanks to the Czech linguistic way of adding genders to names – such as “asistent” for a man and “asistentka” for a woman – were directly excluding members of the opposite sex. The analysis also found numerous cases of age discrimination in ads. Additionally, the Committee also found that around five percent of ads for housing contained subtle mechanisms to exclude minorities or foreigners. In total, 12,000 advertisements were examined in the study.
The Czech Republic’s largest summer flower show has opened in the Moravian city of Olomouc. The annual affair, called Flora, displays hundreds of flowers and herbs to visitors from across the country. The event is held at the Flora Olomouc Exhibition Grounds and also highlights newly cultivated flowers. Last year, Flora attracted an estimated 37,000 guests, with its spring show attracting 65,000. The event will last until Sunday.
The Czech Senate is on Wednesday set to vote on the controversial church property restitution bill. The upper house, controlled by the opposition Social Democrats and Communists, is likely to reject the bill. The draft legislation, prepared by the government, would give the Czech Catholic Church and other religious groups some 135 billion crowns worth of property, most of it as financial compensation. Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Wednesday expressed confidence that coalition MPs will overturn a possible Senate veto of the bill when it returns to the lower house.
The Czech Health Ministry on Wednesday revealed plans to introduce a broad smoking ban in all restaurants, pubs, bars and other establishments. The bill, which is now being reviewed by other branches of the government, would also ban smoking in the establishments' outside seating areas and introduce fines of up to one million crowns for failure to comply with the measure. The current Czech legislation allows smoking in separate sections of restaurants which would not be possible under the proposed bill. Polls show that nearly 80 percent of Czechs support the broad smoking ban which could come into effect in August, 2013.
The Czech government on Wednesday approved new gambling and lottery legislation that would allow foreigners to take part in the business, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said. The bill would require gambling and lottery operators to be based in the Czech Republic; internet operators would also have to be registered in the country. The draft legislation was dismissed by members of the Czech gaming industry who said large foreign betting firms, operating on-line for years, would not establish Czech branches. The bill should also give municipalities more power in regulating gambling.
A children’s wing at Prague’s Motol hospital has been found to be structurally unstable. The wing, which is undergoing renovation and accommodates no patients at the moment, has moved by eight to ten centimetres, a spokeswoman for the hospital said. The hospital halted all renovation work and the building is being reviewed by experts. The facility, which is one of Europe’s largest children’s hospitals, was opened last June after a major reconstruction which cost 4.4 billion crowns.
The Czech Republic will next year open new diplomatic missions in Qatar, Senegal, Burma, Sri Lanka and Colombia, the news agency ČTK reported on Wednesday quoting a policy document by the Foreign Ministry. The ministry is also planning to close its offices in Luxembourg and at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Instead, staff will be reinforced at Czech embassies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, deputy foreign minister Jiří Schneider said.