Head: Prague Pride is one of region’s biggest human rights events

The Prague Pride festival begins on Monday and culminates next Saturday with the first Pride Parade through the city since 2019. The annual celebration of sexual minorities also offers many other events, including some with a strong regional focus. I asked Prague Pride director Tom Bílý what visitors could look forward to this year.

“After three years of the Covid pandemic, we again have the Prague Pride parade, on the Saturday.

Tomáš Bílý | Photo: Ondřej Tomšů,  Radio Prague International

“We also have a very nice programme at Letná, at our Pride Park, on Saturday afternoon and evening.

“Also we have some news regarding our parade – this year the parade is without cars.

“People who attended in past years may know that there were big floats, but this is not how we do it anymore.

“We want to be more sustainable, we want to suit more the historical city centre of Prague, so we are going without cars and we are going through the real heart of the city centre of Prague.

“And we will also see the Old Town Square, with our parade.”

I know in the past, before Covid, many visitors came from abroad for Prague Pride. Are you expecting people to come here again from other countries this year?

“Definitely. Yes, we expect people to come from various countries, in Europe mainly.

“Usually guests are coming from Germany, but also from Poland, Slovakia, Hungary.

“This year we will also have many events with Ukrainian guests here in Prague.

“And one of our important topics for the 2022 Prague Pride festival is the situation of LGBTIQ people in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.”

Is it the case that Prague Pride is a kind of beacon for people in other countries in the region, because the Czech Republic is, relative to those countries, quite liberal?

“Yes, exactly.

Prague Pride | Photo: Anne-Claire Veluire,  Radio Prague International

“Prague Pride is one of the biggest human rights festivals in the whole region of Central and Eastern Europe.

“And of course for LGBTIQ people Prague is always a kind of safe spot of the map of Central and Eastern Europe.

“So definitely a lot of people from these countries come to Prague to visit Prague Pride and enjoy the week of safe space here and a place where they can be who they are.”

As you know a group of 54 Czech MPs submitted a bill aimed at ensuring that the Czech Constitution says that marriage is only a union between a man and a woman. Does that kind of thing inspire you to be more active as Pride? Or is there always something to fight against?

“For us, equal marriage is a very important milestone, let’s say, in the LGBTIQ movement in the Czech Republic.

Photo: Klára Stejskalová,  Radio Prague International

“From my perspective, this initiative does not belong to the 21st century.

“We are somehow at a crossroads and I think that politicians should think about it.

“Because we are either going in the direction of rule of law, democracy and human rights, meaning in Europe.

“Or we are going to the east, to countries like Russia.

“And from my point of view it’s really a sad situation.”