Bátora criticizes US Ambassador for standing up for gays and lesbians
Ladislav Bátora, the head of human resources at the Czech Education Ministry, has co-authored a communication with other representatives of the D.O.S.T. initiative to the Ambassador of the USA to the Czech Republic, Norman Eisen, stating that he disagrees with Eisen's support for the upcoming Gay Pride Parade in Prague. Eisen and diplomats from 12 other states issued a statement on Friday supporting Prague Pride. The D.O.S.T. initiative has also called on Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda (Civic Democrats-ODS) to withdraw his auspices from the event.
"We cannot agree with the fact that the Embassy of the USA, which you are heading, has expressed its public support to the organizers of the August Prague Pride and we emphatically protest against it. This event is organized by groups of homosexuals and lesbians whose demands against the Czech public significantly exceed the framework of mere tolerance," Bátora writes in a letter which he has signed as chair of the initiative and which is co-signed by other D.O.S.T. representatives.
On Friday, the Embassies of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA all expressed their support in an open letter for the rights of homosexuals "to hold a legal, peaceful march to raise awareness about specific topics concerning them". Dozens of similar marches are normally held worldwide.
Former Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, commenting on the joint letter, said such joint declarations by Western diplomats are not common in the EU Member States. "In so-called 'third countries', however, such joint statements are rather usual," the former head of Czech diplomacy said.
Bátora and the other signatories to the D.O.S.T. letter are said to regret the fact that Eisen has chosen to become involved on behalf of lobbying organizations whose ideologies, they claim, show the same features of social engineering as Marxism-Leninism once did, especially since Eisen did so in the name of a state which "stood side by side with us in the fight against communism." The five-day Prague Pride festival, organized by the PROUD platform, which fights for the rights of homosexuals and transsexuals, will culminate on 13 August with a march through Prague by homosexuals and members of other sexual minorities.
Pride parades similar to the one that will take place for the first time in Prague are held in many countries around the world and are attended by thousands of people. This year in Vienna, a similar "Rainbow Parade" of participants in multicolored costumes danced through the streets on 18 June.
Yesterday Dutch soldiers officially participated for the first time ever in the Gay Pride march in Amsterdam. The Netherlands Defense Ministry sponsored a boat for the traditional sail down the city's central canal.
A Gay Pride march also took place yesterday in Stockholm. Ministers and uniformed members of the Army and Police were among the tens of thousands of participants.
The D.O.S.T. initiative has also written a letter to Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda (ODS) sharply criticizing him for giving his auspices to the event and demanding that he withdraw them. Last week Petr Hájek, the Vice-Chancellor to Czech President Václav Klaus, also expressed strong opposition to the event, and the president supported his statement on Friday. In the past Klaus has supported Bátora himself, whose departure from the Czech Education Ministry has been demanded by several Czech senators. Those opposed to him criticize his links to marginal, radical parts of the Czech right-wing scene, such as his participation in lectures organized by the ultra-nationalist Patriotic Front (Vlastenecká fronta). Czech Education Minister Josef Dobeš (VV - Public Affairs) has defended Bátora as a "loyal scholar of the nation" and a Catholic and claims there is no evidence that he is a racist.
In his letter to Eisen, Bátora reminded him of US President Ronald Reagan. The initiative apparently cannot agree with Eisen's support for Prague Pride because they view it as betraying Reagan's legacy and "good relations between our nations".
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