Czech Gay and Lesbian League upset about repeated rejection of same sex partnerships


The Czech parliament with a majority of just one vote has for no less than the third time rejected a bill enabling registered partnerships of same sex couples. Whereas most MPs from left-wing parties supported the law, all deputies from the Christian Democrats, a party that is close to the Catholic Church, voted against, and they were joined by most of the Civic Democrats, the largest right-of-centre opposition party. Christian Democrat MPs have in the past been vocal in their opposition not only to gay partnerships, but last week Jiri Karas, a deputy from the party, who in the past has described homosexuality as a sin, adopted a more conciliatory tone.

"I'm glad the bill was rejected, but on the other hand we should be very understanding towards homosexuals. Our society should show this in real ways."

But Czech gays and lesbians are angry and disappointed. I spoke to the spokeswoman of the Gay and Lesbian League Tereza Kodickova. She outlined what the bill had proposed.

"This bill was trying to propose things that the chamber of deputies would approve, so it was very weak - it did not offer too much to the partners. We were trying to accomplish some first steps, and then later add some more to what has already been approved. So basically what it contained were inheritance rights, then the duty to support and maintain, and then the provision about the right to information about a partner when one is ill. And that was basically it - so it was not much."

Why do you think this bill was turned down?

"I think that it was because homophobia is still an accepted political attitude, unlike, for example, racism. I don't think any politician would dare to say that any minority is less than somebody else, and doesn't have the same rights, but it is still acceptable to say that homosexuals do not have these rights."

Why is it? Do you think it reflects public opinion in the Czech Republic?

"I don't think it does. It seems that the chamber of deputies is rather isolated in its opinions and views, that people concentrate more on what is happening inside, rather than on how they represent the public."

When you talk to people in general, do they seem to be rather in favour of this kind of proposal or against it?

"When I talk to people - and I, of course, don't talk to all people - some of them say 'I wouldn't support this, because it's too weak.' - That was the case of some of the deputies as well. Most of the public is already - I think - in favour. Although the data we have are not completely reliable, because the opinion polls never are."

Do you see any chance that a similar bill could be enacted in foreseeable future?

"We've been just discussing it now. We will probably try to propose a similar draft again in the near future. Primarily because the next chamber of deputies is probably going to be more conservative than this one. So this is probably our chance."