On Monday, the government approved a proposal to open schools designed to integrate socially disadvantaged and disabled children. The measure is meant to address the lack of integration in the Czech school system and seeks to facilitate co-education of disabled and healthy children, as well as to include children from socially weak families, including children of Romany origin. One of the possible ways of helping to integrate these students would be to introduce a mandatory pre-school year to help bring children’s abilities to an elementary school level. The proposal also seeks to increase the number of staff trained to address the needs of disabled students and students who have a hard time keeping up with the class.
On Tuesday, the umbrella organization of transport unions apologized to Gustav Slámečka, the Minister of Transport, for homophobic remarks made by one of its leaders, Jaromir Dušek. In an open letter to the minister the union said that Mr. Dušek’s homophobic remarks damaged the image of all members of the union and were offensive to all decent people. It added that it hoped the incident would not damage relations between the transport union and the ministry in the long run. On Monday, trade unions publicly distanced themselves from Dušek’s homophobic statements. Dušek said in an interview for Saturday’s Lidové Noviny that the transport sector was run by a clique of homosexuals who had people both in the cabinet and the office of the government.
Transport and services union leader Jaromír Dušek has evoked outrage on the Czech political scene by launching a vicious and homophobic attack on the management of Czech Railways. In an interview for Saturday’s Lidové Noviny, Mr. Dušek said Czech Railways was run by a clique of incompetent gays who had links to homosexuals in the cabinet and the Office of the Government. The controversial trade union leader has now been barred from speaking for the umbrella trade unions organization and is likely to face charges of slander.
Monday is International Women’s Day, and in 2010 that means one hundred years since the holiday was introduced. The idea to highlight the struggle for women’s rights around the world picked up a different tone in communist countries like Czechoslovakia though, and was largely discarded after 1989. Now some NGOs in the Czech Republic want to use the 100th anniversary to reawaken the spirit of activism that Women’s Day originally stood for.
Prime Minister Jan Fisher has demanded an apology from transport unions leader Jaromír Dušek over an interview in which he said that Czech Railways was run by a clique of homosexuals. In an interview for Saturday’s Lidové Noviny, Dušek alleged that homosexuals had a tight grip on decision-making and had people both in the cabinet and the office of the government. The interview provoked an angry reaction from Prime Minister Jan Fischer who described Mr. Dušek’s views as primitive and small-minded. He accused the trade union leader of homophobia and intolerance and said that if he failed to apologize he would not be considered a future partner for negotiation.
The Czech government is distributing a new handbook to primary and secondary school teachers called “Homophobia in Schools” – aimed at raising awareness of homosexuality and the problem of bullying based on sexual orientation. The government council behind the handbook says it wants teachers to be better able to recognise homophobia – and to do something about it.
Pupils at primary and secondary schools around the country will receive a new comic book soon; it’s called My World and it’s all about a Chechen refugee struggling to adjust to his new life in the Czech Republic, including dealing with prejudice and hostility. Magda Faltová, director of the Prague-based NGO the Association for Integration and Migration which produced the comic book, told us more.
Leaders of the banned Workers’ Party said on Saturday that they will fight upcoming general elections under the banner Workers’ Party of Social Justice (DSSS). Leader Tomáš Vanas said he felt support following Wednesday’s decision by the Supreme Administrative Court to dissolve the Workers’ Party and said that could be vented in the elections. It was the first time a court has banned a party on political not financial grounds since the creation of the Czech Republic in 1993. The court cited the party’s racist, xenophobic and anti-gay stances and Nazi links for its decision. The extremist party currently has only a handful of local council seats.
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