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Prague Pride changes website after recommending supporters vote for racist candidates

17.9.2016 15:17
Prague Pride 2012. (PHOTO:  Lukáš Houdek)
Prague Pride 2012. (PHOTO: Lukáš Houdek)

The Prague Pride organization, which defends the rights of gays and lesbians and annually convenes a pride march through the center of Prague, recently conducted a survey among candidates to the Senate for this year's elections. According to how candidates responded to the three questions asked, the organization recommended members of the LGBT community vote for them.

Among the candidates paradoxically recommended by Prague Pride, paradoxically, were anti-Romani, racist politicians such as Liana Janáčková of Ostrava and Jiří Mária Sieber of Most. After news server warned Prague Pride about these politicians' views, the organization reformulated its messaging.  

Czeslaw Walek:  Answers to these questions are important for the LGBT community

Prague Pride sent three questions to candidates about support for same-sex couples adopting children and support for same-sex couples being able to marry. "These are topics that should interest you - when you go to vote, think about the fact that it will decide your future. Here are our recommendations:  Three 'yes' answers means you can vote for that candidate with peace of mind. Just don't forget to keep checking whether these people actually represent your interests," the Prague Pride website read on 9 August.

"We reached out to all candidates for whom an e-mail address was publicly accessible without engaging in any censorship, without drawing any distinctions, and without pre-selecting them," Czeslaw Walek, who is responsible for public relations at Prague Pride, explained to news server "The aim of the survey is to inform our target group of LGBT persons how candidates say they will vote on topics that directly concern LGBT persons. We want to inspire LGBT people to participate in the Senate elections and reflect on whom they are casting their votes for instead of leaving such decisions up to everybody else."

"Those questions strictly concerned matters that are close to the LGBT community, our aim was not to substitute for some sort of general election calculator! The answers are important for the LGBT community because this is the second legislative session during which an amendment to the law on registered partnership that would make it possible for same-sex couples to adopt children has lain untouched in the Chamber of Deputies. For the last eight years, politicians have not managed to send that amendment even through a first reading, to say nothing of adopting it. Nobody else is asking the politicians who want to 'represent our interests' in future for their opinions about adoption, or about relationships between same-sex couples, so LGBT voters don't even know what stand a particular candidate will take on those matters," Walek said.

"At the same time, I want to point out that voters are not a herd of sheep. People are competent, and in addition to looking at our website, they will begin to take more interest in these candidates and will decide whom to vote for based on their own consciences," Walek said when asked by news server whether the organization was not bothered to be expressing support for candidates who have openly spoken against refugee reception or against Romani people.

David Tišer: I will not vote for racists, the wording of the support for those candidates was unfortunate

David Tišer, director of the ARA ART organization, which is involved in defending the rights of the Romani members of the LGBT community and who regularly attends the Prague Pride parade with a Romani float, says he will not be voting for such candidates. "They answered 'yes' three times to questions that are important for the LGBT community. I am aware that for the Romani community those two names [Janáčková and Sieber] are unacceptable and I definitely would not vote for them," he told news server

"I understood the website to be saying that it was recommending voting for those candidates on the basis of their responses to those three questions, but that at the same time one should investigate what the rest of the candidates' programs is," the ARA ART director said. In his view the formulation on the Prague Pride website was very unfortunate.

"The way they chose to phrase the sentence recommending the candidates is inappropriate and unfortunate. I know the people from Prague Pride personally and I know they do not support racists. I personally will want to see the formulation of that sentence changed," Tišer told news server

Walek promised to correct the messaging on the Prague Pride website. An altered formulation was published online shortly after 13:30 yesterday.

"Three times YES. This candidate has clear views on questions of protecting the rights of same-sex couples and families. Be careful though - check to make sure the candidate has not expressed hatred for other minorities and doesn't reject democracy per se. Don't forget to keep track of whether these politicians actually represent your interests," the Prague Pride website now reads. 

Sieber:  "Gypsies cheat every day, pay no rent, and have low intelligence, just like Muslims"

Jiří Maria Sieber is running for the Senate in Most, and news server has already reported on him in connection with his dissemination of an anti-Romani hoax claiming that Romani people were getting washing machines free of charge through the social welfare system. Sieber basically always calls Romani people "Gypsies" or "gypsies" and his Facebook profile buzzes with various anti-refugee and anti-Romani posts.

"You know, long before this campaign, two or three years back, whenever I have had an experience with the gypsy issue - because they have an absolutely different way of behaving, communicating, thinking, often you can't understand it - I have described my experience. Each day I am confronted with their efforts to cheat, to enrich themselves, etc.," Sieber said in an interview for the tabloid Parlamentní listy.

Sieber has expressed his views of Romani tenants during interviews as well. "If I were to say it in a hard-boiled way, whites don't rent apartments. Only Gypsies do because they get to live in them for free. Have you noticed something else? How they've gradually changed the geography of Most? When I walk down Budovatelů Avenue, suddenly it's totally 'black' there," he said in an interview where he went on to state that Muslims and Romani people can also be compared in terms of their allegedly low intelligence.

Liana Janáčková, another candidate for whom Prague Pride recommended voting, became infamous for saying she would imprison Romani people behind a high electric fence if she could. "I disagree with any integration of Gypsies in this district, unfortunately, I am a racist. We chose the Bedřiška [locality for them] so that's where they'll be, behind a high electric fence as far as I'm concerned, it's all the same to me... I'll shout that to the whole world," she said at a municipal meeting in 2007.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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