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Czech Police expect Prague Pride parade to go smoothly

Prague, 9.8.2011 18:54, (ROMEA)

Prague Police will be increasing their numbers in the streets of the Czech capital during the Prague Pride festival but are not preparing any special measures or anticipating clashes or riots. Representatives of the ultra-right (and officially dissolved) Workers' Party will evidently also be present near the parade, as former party chair Tomáš Vandas has confirmed to news server iDNES.cz. The Young Christian Democrats/People's Party (Mladí křesťanští demokraté s lidovci) and the "Movement for Life" (Hnutí pro život) will hold a counter-demonstration to the parade at the same time, starting at Obecní Dům, in which the conservative D.O.S.T. initiative will also participate.

More than 100 police officers will maintain order and traffic flows. The Czech Press Agency reports police spokesperson Eva Kropáčová as saying the police corps is not preparing any special measures or expecting clashes or rioting at Saturday's Gay Pride Parade.

The media have reported that right-wing extremists will be turning up for Saturday's event, but Kropáčová said the police have no such information. Tomáš Vandas, currently chair of the ultra-right Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti) told news server iDNES.cz party representatives "will most probably be somewhere near the spots the parade is to pass".

"We don't foresee any problems occurring," Kropáčová said. Police officers anticipate the festival to go smoothly.

However, organizers of the parade, which has prompted protests from conservatives, have already canceled one planned event for security reasons, the "Naked Party", which was to have taken place at a club called Heaven. An organizer explained to news server Romea.cz that the event has not been canceled on the basis of any specific threat, but because police evaluated it as potentially the most dangerous. News server Parlamentnílisty.cz, which has become a forum for critics of the march since it was first announced, reported the cancellation with the headline "Gays destroy the evidence".

Members of the LGBTQ community are unhappy that the party has been canceled. One woman, writing on Facebook, said homosexuals "should not keep on defending the stupid pigs around us - and not just the ones at Prague Castle - or erasing all traces of their favorite events". She went on to say that heterosexuals share similar sexual enthusiasms with gays and lesbians: "If there were a heterosexual parade, there would certainly be a stand about leather there and other things considered kinky by some."

Comments made by Petr Hájek, the Czech President's Vice-Chancellor, have sparked a wave of protests against what will be Prague's first-ever Gay Pride Parade. The parade is part of a festival featuring concerts, parties and walks through old Prague which Hájek has labeled a "lobbying" event and political demonstration of the "warped values" of the gay world. Hájek also wrote that homosexuals are "deviant fellow-citizens" and criticized Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda (ODS - Civic Democrats) for giving his auspices to the event. Czech President Václav Klaus then backed Hájek's comments, saying he considered the word "deviation" to be "value-neutral" and the carnival to be a manifestation "not of homosexuality, but of homosexualism", about which he claims to be greatly concerned.

On the other hand, some politicians in the governing Public Affairs party (VV), the opposition Czech Social Democrats (ČSSD), and the extra-parliamentary Green Party (SZ) have expressed support for the organizers of the march. A letter of support for the event has also been co-signed by 13 embassies, including those of Germany, the UK and the USA. The Czech President called that letter an "unprecedented step" and an intervention into the country's domestic political discussion. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) called the letter counterproductive and unnecessary.

The Prague Pride Parade will assemble at 12:00 CET on Náměstí Míru (Square of Peace) this Saturday. The march will end at Střelecký ostrov (Shooter's Island).

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Czech Press Agency, zk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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