Czech conservatives, neo-Nazis to protest LGBT pride event tomorrow
Conservatives and neo-Nazis are planning to protest the pride march by the LGBT community that will be the final event tomorrow of the Prague Pride festival. The protesters are planning to meet at the statue of St. Václav on Wenceslas Square in Prague, where the parade participants will also be lining up.
As of today, the neo-Nazi protest was not on the municipal list of announced assemblies. Several hundred police officers will be supervising order and keeping the peace during the march.
The Prague Pride festival and carnival march are taking place in the capital for the fourth time. Last year as many as 20 000 people marched through Prague.
This year participants will begin lining up on Wenceslas Square starting at noon tomorrow. They will march to the Letná Plain on the other side of the river.
Opponents of the festival and march are advertising their own meeting at the statue of St. Václav at 11 AM. They have apparently not officially announced their gathering to authorities.
The conservative political party Ne Bruselu - národní demokracie (No to Brussels - National Democracy or NBND), has advertised Saturday's protest at the statue of St. Václav. The text of the advertisement describes Prague Pride as a "perverse" festival and its participants as "deviants".
The piece is followed by a link to the neo-Nazi website Svobodný odpor (Free Resistance), where advertisements of anti-Romani marches in northern Bohemia have also been posted. In a press release, NBND chair Adam B. Bartoš says the Prague Pride festival has a political background and is meant to contribute "to the promotion of homosexualism", the "corruption of the traditional family", and the enforcement of the rights of those "who suffer from sexual deviations."
"Under no circumstances do we judge homosexuals. However, we thoroughly reject the notion that under the influence of ideologues who are doing their best to exploit them and win them over for their own interests, they will turn their deviations into a privilege. Homosexuality, like any disease, should be treated and all homosexuals have our full support with that," Bartoš says.
The protest at the statue of St. Václav tomorrow is also supported by conservatives from the D.O.S.T. initiative. That particular group has protested the festival and march every year.
Petr Bahník, chair of D.O.S.T., says their protest has not been heard. The group claims there is nothing they can do but "look for appropriate, legal, new ways to defend [them]selves," Bahník has written in an open letter to supporters of the festival and the politicians giving their auspices to Prague Pride.
Prague Pride is taking place under the auspices of the Czech Human Rights Minister and the Mayor of Prague. The D.O.S.T. chair was not specific about what ways to "defend themselves" the initiative plans to opt for.
Today at 18:00 the Prague Pride festival features a program called "Hot Chocolate" in the NoD space on Dlouhá Street including an exhibition, music, a debate, fortune-telling and a counseling center. The debate will focus on transsexuality in the Romani family.
The annual Prague Pride parade through the historic center of Prague will take place on Saturday 16 August and those participating will gather underneath the statue of St. Václav on Wenceslas Square and set off at 13:00 down Na příkopě and Revoluční Streets to Řásnovka and Dvořákovo nábřeží, across the Čechův most Bridge and up the stairs to the Letná Plain. Organizers anticipate at least 20 000 people to march in this year's parade, just like last year.
Police are preparing for the march and intend to ensure the free flow of traffic, order, and the peaceful course of the parade. Police officers say minor traffic complications can be expected along the route of the march.
"Several hundred police officers will be participating in those measures from the criminal detective, riot unit and traffic departments, and of course members of an anti-conflict team will be at the scene," said Prague Police spokesperson Jan Daněk. Regular street patrol officers will also assist.