The latest Rainbow Map, a comprehensive evaluation of 49 European countries according to their attitude towards sexual minorities ranks the Czech Republic in 31st place – closer to countries where members of the LGBTI community face systemic discrimination or routinely see their human rights violated.
Among the current 28 member countries of the European Union, the Czech Republic ranked 21st in the ILGA-Europe’s annual Rainbow Map and Index, behind neighbouring Slovakia and Hungary, but ahead of Poland, which has seen a far steeper slide in recent years.
The ILGA-Europe index, a benchmarking tool, ranks each nation on a number of subjects, including non-discrimination laws, asylum policies, legal gender recognition and family rights. The organisation says LGBTI rights in Europe have eroded over the past year, as measured by the current state of laws and policies related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.
In the Czech Republic, the slide stems in part from opposition to LGBTI equality, including marriage equality, which rose substantially in 2018. Among the voices in the civic sector were the “Aliance pro rodinu” (Family Alliance), by the Roman Catholic Church and several ultra-conservative politicians.
Among the report contributors for the Czech Republic was Adéla Horáková, a lawyer on the board of PROUD, an initiative promoting equality and human rights. She says the same-sex marriage issue and the joint parental rights that, in most of in Western Europe, go with it, are among the most pressing problems in this country.
“I would say that the situation in the Czech Republic is at a standstill. There has been no real progress made in the last 13 years, since the registered partnership law was adopted. And of course remaining at a standstill while others are moving forward, means we’re getting further and further from the ‘free world’, let’s say.”
Horáková noted that a campaign for marriage equality run by the Czech NGO “Jsme fér” (We’re Fair) helped bring a bill to introduce same-sex marriage and grant the same rights to all wedded couples last year.
That bill was supported by 5 of the total 9 parties in parliament. But the Christian Democrats also filed a bill to introduce a ban on equal marriage in the Constitution. A public hearing on the petition was held in the Parliament on 9 November, but since then only a single debate has been held. And no vote on the matter is scheduled.
According to ILGA-Europe, other significant problem areas as far as the Czech Republic is concerned include a policy forcing transgender people to undergo sterilization in order to legally change their gender. This “seriously impacts trans people’s health, physical and psychological integrity, and dignity”, the group say in the Rainbow Map report.
It also notes that the “Istanbul Convention” entered into force in 2014 but has yet to be ratified by the Czech Republic due to unfounded concerns it aims to undermine “traditional family values”: for example, that is promoting same-sex marriage, would legally-recognise “third sex” status, or automatically grant “refugee” status to transgender or intersex people – none of which is true.