The decision to adopt a child is a big choice for a couple to make and once they have agreed on it they are usually eager to bring their new baby or child home. However, as elsewhere, adopting a child in the Czech Republic can be a long and painful process. There are long queues of childless couples waiting to adopt kids- and seemingly - a lack of children. Yet at this time there are 22 thousand children in institutional care waiting to find new homes. Dr. Petra Vrtbovska from the Prague Institute for Foster Care explains what's keeping them
The city of Prague has opened an unusual shelter for the homeless: a cargo boat converted into a hostel providing 250 beds. The boat, anchored on the Vltava River in the centre of Prague, opens for business to Prague's estimated 5,000-6,000 homeless on Thursday. The city authorities say it is the first homeless boat hostel of its kind in Europe. For 20 crowns (around a dollar) the homeless will be given a bunk bed, a cup of tea and access to sanitary facilities.
In the Communist era, it was illegal in this country not to have a place to live. All this has changed in the 16 years since the Velvet Revolution, however, and there are now an estimated 5000 homeless people on the streets of Prague. This has proved to be a difficult problem to deal with, and the homeless have become an increasingly visible presence on the streets of the Czech capital, often sleeping on trams and buses. One of the reasons for this is that no Prague municipality is willing to grant permission for a homeless shelter in its neighbourhood,
Photos of a wall built by the authorities in the north Bohemian town of Usti nad Labem to separate local residents from Romanies have gone on show at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The wall was built in 1999. It was removed after being criticised by human rights groups as an example of institutional racism in the Czech Republic. Romany groups are calling on the UN to appoint a special representative on Romany issues.
The number of people infected with the HIV virus in the Czech Republic increased significantly last year. According to the National Reference Laboratory for AIDS, 2006 saw the highest number of new cases since 1985. Of the 93 newly registered patients last year, ten had full blown AIDS. The latest figures suggest that a total of 920 people in the Czech Republic have HIV or AIDS, of whom just about one half - 464 - live in Prague.
Romano Hiphop is the title of the latest CD by the Czech Romany rap artist Gipsy. The album is actually released under the name Gipsy.cz, because this time he has collaborated in a group project with other Romany musicians. When I met Gipsy in a Prague café, he told me why - unlike on his previous release Ya Favourite CD Rom - he had incorporated traditional Gypsy music this time round.
In 80 locations around Prague posters have just appeared announcing bizarre regulations curtailing the liberty of evidently randomly chosen sections of society, such as people with freckles. The city's Jewish Museum is behind the campaign - it aims to interest young people in history by reminding them of the fate of Jews before and during World War II.
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has begun hearing an appeal in the case of 18 Romany children from Ostrava, whose parents claim their placing in special schools for the mentally retarded amounted to discrimination. Such schools have since been renamed in the Czech Republic, but the problem remains; most Romany children generally receive a sub-standard education. Last year the Court ruled against the applicants; this appeal is the families' last chance. David Strupek is the lawyer representing the 18 families,
Forty-three year old Lech Sydor from eastern Moravia was promised a job as a masseur in a rehabilitation centre. When the centre's management found out that he was gay, it refused to employ him. Mr Sydor took his case to court and won. As Dita Asiedu reports, this is a landmark case in the Czech Republic where a court has never before ruled on a sexual orientation discrimination case:
A Czech court has ordered a fitness club to pay 70 000 crowns in damages and apologize to a 43 year old homosexual man whom it failed to employ because of his sexual orientation. Lech Sydor said the fitness club promised him the job but backed out when it emerged that he was gay. In a private interview with Sydor the club's manager allegedly told him he could not risk having a gay masseur making passes at the club's male clients. In the court hearings the manager claimed he had found a more-qualified candidate for the position. This is the first time that a Czech court has recognized discrimination on the grounds of sexual preference.
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