Church’s move to allow blessing of same-sex unions shows believers “really support equality”

The country’s largest Protestant denomination, the Evangelical Church of the Czech Brethren, announced over the weekend that it will officially allow pastors to bless same-sex unions. I spoke to Filip Milde of the organisation Jsme Fér, which campaigns for marriage equality in Czechia, to find out what he thought the significance of this move is.

“We believe it has huge significance, although the church is actually the second in the Czech Republic to allow the blessing of same-sex couples. Last year, the Old Catholic Church of the Czech Republic was already the first church to allow it.

Filip Milde | Photo: Archive of Filip Milde

“But it sends a very strong message that, even though we are the most atheistic country in the world, the people of faith really support equality, and we are on the right path towards marriage equality.”

“It also gives the people of the church the freedom to decide if they are willing to do it or not. But we see that more and more people are interested in being blessed on their path in life, so it really will have a symbolic impact on people’s lives.”

You said before that the first church in the country to allow the blessing of same-sex couples was the Old Catholic Church of the Czech Republic, but the main Roman Catholic Church still doesn’t allow it?

“It doesn’t, but we see that more and more religious people in the Catholic Church also support equality. There are over 100 signatures under an open letter by the organisation Logos, which wrote a statement that everyone who is religious and wants to support marriage equality can sign this petition.

“So it seems that the people of faith don’t have much of an issue with marriage equality. It’s mainly the representatives of the Catholic Church in the country, as with other neighbouring countries in Central and Eastern Europe.”

The Prime Minister wrote in a book that he did not support legalising same-sex marriage and he is a member of the Roman Catholic faith. Do you think he is more of an exception to the rule? That most people who identify as Catholic do in fact support same-sex marriage?

“I can’t say exactly whether this is the case, because I don’t think any research has been done about the exact amount of support in this group. But we can look at the numbers from around the world, where even in America, more and more people, I think around 60% in the Catholic Church, support marriage equality, and that definitely is something that would happen in the Czech Republic as well.

Photo: The Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren

“Because in each country where equal marriage is legalised, a very important and interesting thing happens. The acceptance and support for LGBT people and marriage equality rises – because people learn that none of the problems or threats from the misinformation they were hearing before are really happening. So people get used to the fact that it’s actually ok and people are just getting married.

“So we believe that even our Prime Minister, who said a couple of years back that he believes family means a man and woman and kids, maybe his views will change as well.”

What about on a political level? The political leadership in this country have long been promising to discuss and vote on legalising same-sex marriage but it’s been continually postponed. Do you think this will put any pressure on them to act?

“Well, this is definitely a positive and important step, and the politicians that are opposed to equal marriage are mainly conservative and religious. So we believe that this will show them that there is really no conflict in terms of being religious and at the same time supporting equality.”