Conservative homosexuals should have same right to marriage as conservative straights, argue equality campaigners

Photo: Filip Jandourek

An alliance of Czech non-profits has just launched a campaign calling for same-sex couples to have the same right to marry as heterosexuals. Under the banner Coalition for Marriage, they argue that marriage equality is only fair and say they aim to spark a nationwide conversation on the issue. I spoke to the group’s Aleš Rumpel and began by asking what the differences were between registered partnerships for homosexuals, introduced in 2006, and marriage.

Aleš Rumpel,  photo: Ian Willoughby
“There are over 100, actually. A lot of people are not aware of that.

“It begins at the very beginnings. There is no wedding. You are not required to have witnesses.

“You can only sign the registry in 14 regional capitals in the country, so you can’t do it in your town if you’re not from one of the capitals.

“And there are a number of differences when it comes to legal protection.”

I think if I came across your campaign, Coalition for Marriage, by chance I would assume it was a conservative group. Is that a deliberate choice on your part?

“Marriage is what we want and a coalition is what we are.

“Yes, a lot of people will say marriage is a very conservative institution.

“It’s a little ironic that sometimes it is the most conservative people who oppose marriage equality.

“Because, precisely, it is a conservative value, there are a number of people who for whatever political reasons do not believe in marraige.

“Personally I have a lot of straight friends who don’t want to get married ever.

Photo: Filip Jandourek
“But there is a choice. If you are straight and think that marriage is way too conservative or patriarchal or whatever, you don’t have to get married.

“Whereas conservative gays actually do want to get married – and we don’t have that choice.”

Do you get the sense that there are many people in the LGBT community would like to avail of the opportunity to marry if it were open to them?

“Absolutely. We did a little survey a while ago and eight out of 10 gays and lesbians in the Czech Republic definitely prefer marriage to registered partnership.

“And it’s no wonder. Would you want to get registered? Would you ask your beloved to register you? I don’t think so.”

So far, what has been the response of Czech politicians to your campaign? I imagine that some might be wary of supporting you with elections coming up later in the year.

“It can be a political issue, and it is the lawmakers in the country that need to bring in the change.

“However, we have just launched the campaign. We are talking about fairness and we are treating politicians just like everybody else.

“We are inviting people into the conversation. We want to hear legitimate questions and concerns and we want to answer them.

Photo: Jeff Belmonte,  CC BY 2.0
“So our campaign is really based on a conversation.”

Honestly speaking, how likely do you think you are to achieving success with this campaign, that in, I don’t know, there will be complete marriage equality in the Czech Republic?

“We are optimistic. And we are basing our optimism on the fact that currently about 67 percent of the general public in the country are in support of marriage equality.

“So on this issue I think some of the politicians need to catch up with public opinion.”