Only a week after 27-year old Vladko Dobrovodsky collected the first prize, worth some 450,000 dollars, in the Czech Republic's first TV reality show, he was given another present by the country's lawmakers - when they approved a bill allowing for registered partnerships of same-sex couples. Vladko never hid the fact he is gay and in a serious relationship. If the bill becomes a law, Vladko and his boyfriend say they will enter into a registered partnership.
The lower house has approved a bill allowing for registered partnerships for homosexual couples. The bill had been rejected on four previous occasions, the last time by just one vote. On Friday all present MPs the Christian Democrats voted against the bill, which must now go before the Civic-Democrat dominated Senate.
A new anti-discrimination bill amendment was passed on Wednesday promising more protection for Czech citizens. The bill is said to outline fair treatment regardless of sex, race, sexual orientation, or age, and should offer additional protection against discrimination in cases of language, political persuasion, property-ownership, and family status. The amendment brings the Czech Republic's antidiscrimination legislation level with EU norms. If passed by the senate and signed by the president, it should take effect on July 1st, 2006.
The first Czech series of Pop Idol brought instant fame to Aneta Langerova. Now hugely popular among the younger generation and respected for the impression she gives of being a woman of principle, she has had the opportunity to perform with Czech musical legends. In short, a dream come true story for a girl who at the age of eighteen shook the Czech music scene to its foundations, proving that there is space for new talents.
Two Dutch national detained in the Czech Republic on Saturday are under investigation for allegedly promoting racist ideology. The men were detained en route to a Neo-Nazi concert held in the Czech town of Zlata Olesnice, about 160 kilometres north of Prague. Police shut down the concert, which had been booked as a private birthday party, and was attended by some 140 skinheads and far-right extremists. Police made several arrests and seized clothing and electronic media promoting racist ideals. Along with the two Dutch nationals, at least one Czech will likely face charges of inciting racial hatred.
Police shut down a neo-Nazi concert in the northern Bohemian town of Zlata Olesnice on Saturday due to the band's used of racist lyrics. Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan said that twelve people had been detained and that several face charges. The gathering had been booked as a private birthday party. When called to the scene, police found the organisers were charging a cover charge at the door and a skinhead band was performing. Police seized tee-shirts, badges, baseball caps, and electronic media with extremist slogans or content.
Meanwhile, far-right extremist briefly protested outside the French Embassy on Saturday, defying a ban on the rally by Prague authorities, AP reports. The National Party said it had planned the "protest against black violence" and what it called "racial terror in France." Prague's City Hall this week banned the demonstration, saying its aim would be to incite racial hatred as its organizers had voiced opposition to violence "committed by immigrants of non-French origin, mainly from Africa" when announcing the event. Roughly a dozen party members gathered in defiance of the ban, and briefly displayed banners that read "Islam in Europe leads to terrorism in the streets" and "Black racism" before they left. Party leader Jan Skacel said they were opposed to immigration because immigrants were unable to assimilate and their foreign cultures were a source of conflicts. France has been plagued by two weeks of unrest mainly in poor suburbs, marked by nightly car torchings and clashes between gangs of youths and police.
A regional court in Ostrava has ordered a local hospital to apologise to woman who was sterilised without her consent, the news agency AFP reported. The decision Friday was the first to deal with around 80 complaints by Roma women. A judge ruled that the complainant, a 22-year-old Helena Ferencikova, had not given her qualified consent from the procedure -- a violation of her personal rights. Hospital doctors said the sterilisation was carried out for health reasons and that noted that she signed a letter agreeing to the procedure. Ms Ferencikova said she was in the throes of birth pains at the time and was unaware of the letter's contents. An investigation by the Czech ombudsman's office has found no proof of a campaign of "systematic sterilisation" against the minority group.
The shadow economy of the Czech Republic is thought to employ hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers. They come mainly from Ukraine and Slovakia, Vietnam and Russia. On Tuesday --just as the Interior Ministry was outlining plans to close several asylum centres due to dwindling numbers of refugees-- Czech non-profit organisations issued a clarion call for the "regularisation" of illegal workers.
The Czech Interior Ministry has announced plans for changes to the country's asylum system, to reflect a fall in the number of refugees arriving in the Czech Republic each year. The ministry says it plans to close some centres and rebuild others, to improve conditions for asylum-seekers. Groups representing refugees have welcomed the proposals, but complain that other changes recently introduced actually curtail the rights of asylum seekers.
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