There’s been an unexpectedly negative reaction to a proposal by the Education Ministry to offer voluntary classes in Romani – the language of the country’s 300,000 Roma or gypsies – in Czech schools. A Facebook campaign against the proposal has already attracted over 85,000 supporters, although the authorities appear undeterred.
The Green Party has recently brought forward a proposal to change legislation so that gay and lesbian individuals in the Czech Republic who live in a registered partnership would be able to adopt children. The proposal is based on an analysis by the Committee for Sexual Minorities. Within Europe, individual adoption for gays and lesbians in registered partnerships is legal in a number of countries, including Germany, Norway and the UK.
Meanwhile, experts are holding a two-day international conference on alternatives to right-wing extremism in Prague this weekend. The aim of the conference is to get social and environmental movements from Central Europe involved in looking for “Alternatives to right-wing extremism during social and environmental crisis”, as the conference is called. The first day involved a debate on the necessity of international cooperation among anti-fascist movements and their support across the borders of East European countries. The conference will also focus on preparations for the European Social Forum, which will be held in Istanbul on July 1-4.
The town hall in the town of Kladno, west of Prague, has prohibited a public campaign rally of the Workers’ Party of Social Justice (DSSS), which is linked to the recently banned Workers’ Party. According to the town hall, an earlier request had been received from another party to hold a rally at the same place and time. Despite that, Kladno is the fourth municipality in recent days to prevent the party from rallying. Two other towns gave similar reasons as Kladno, while the town of Tábor banned a rally on the grounds that the DSSS is the successor of the extreme right-wing Workers’ Party; the DSSS filed a judicial complaint in that case, and the decision was overturned. On February 17, the Workers’ Party became the first Czech political party to be banned on the grounds of disruption of democratic values for inciting racism, xenophobia and promoting National Socialism.
The Czech Roman Catholic Church recently joined an on-going debate about sexual abuse of minors by priests. Several church officials, including both the outgoing and the newly appointed archbishops of Prague offered their views on the scandal, and on what the church should do to prevent such cases in the future. Although only a few cases of sex abuse have been disclosed in the Czech Republic, the debate now centres on how to tighten the rules of accepting candidates for priests.
The regional court in the South Bohemian town of České Budějovice has overturned a decision by the town hall in Tábor to ban a pre-election meeting of right-wing extremists planned in the town in April. Supporters of the far right Workers’ Party for Social Justice (a group building on the earlier Workers’ Party which was been permanently banned in the Czech Republic) are aiming to gather for a so-called pre-election meeting on April 17; between 100 to 300 supporters are expected. The regional court made clear on Friday that if the town hall wanted to apply a ban it needed evidence for its decision.
Traveling has just become a lot more convenient for Czech gays and lesbians. A new holiday brochure provides an alternative to lengthy internet research to find a place to stay that is gay-friendly. The “Pink Go!” brochure boasts gay-friendly hotels, cruises catering to homosexuals and even gay-only accommodation. Sarah Borufka has the story.
The Education Ministry has proposed introducing lessons in Romani language and culture in schools, to encourage Roma pupils and foster greater integration in society. The plan, reported this week by the newspaper Lidové noviny, is still in the early stages – the ministry is about to launch a pilot project in a number of schools. But it’s been welcomed by NGOs working to improve educational standards among the Roma.
Nine Burmese families are now making a life for themselves in the Czech Republic. One father explained how he fled his country after coming under suspicion from the ruling military regime of having helped rebels. The 43 Burmese refugees, from the Cin ethnic group, are the first to be offered asylum in the Czech Republic under a project organised with the United Nations. Another group should follow soon. Director of the Burma Centre in Prague, Sabe Amthor Soe, has been closely involved in the project and helping families settle in. I asked her first
The conditions in which the Czech Republic’s Roma minority lives have not improved in the last decade, in fact many of the groups working with Roma issues say their situation in Czech society, and relationship with Czechs, is in a gradual downward spiral. Unemployment among the Roma is said to be at more than 80%, high debt is rampant, and this has fostered social exclusion and breeding grounds for crime and drug use. And in turn violent crime against Roma communities has become, if not more prevalent, then more extreme. In this week’s Talking
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