Prelate’s reaction to church hosting of Pride events shows discrimination is real, says organiser

Photo: Miloslav Hamřík, ČRo

The head of the Czech Roman Catholic church has criticised plans to host events in August’s Prague Pride LGBT festival at the city’s parish of St. Salvatore, headed by priest and professor Tomáš Halík. In a statement, Cardinal Dominik Duka said it was inappropriate for the church to be involved with events advocating for interests sharply at odds with its own.

Bohdana Rambousková,  photo: Kristýna Maková
But what particular festival sidebars are being held on church property? And how do Prague Pride respond to the church leader’s comments? They are questions I put to Bohdana Rambousková, the organisation’s spokesperson.

“There are two events taking place at the Roman Catholic Academic Parish Prague. One of them is a debate with an American nun, Jeannine Garmick, who has been popular for her focus on LGBT issues and religion.

“The second event is the screening of a Polish film [In the Name Of… ], which is followed by a debate.”

'In the Name Of…'
I understand this is the first time the Czech Catholic Church has in any way been involved with Prague Pride. How did this cooperation come about?

“Well, this is not the first time religious events are included in the programme of Prague Pride. In previous years we have had prayers and debates on spiritual topics.

“We’ve cooperated with Logos, which is a Czech organisation focused on LGBT issues and religion. This year they have come with a quite rich programme, consisting of prayers, debates, film screenings and other things.”

Yesterday the archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka, issued a statement saying it wasn’t appropriate to emphasise “exceptionality” and advocate for interests at odds with those of church, referring to the Prague Pride festival and the parade in particular. What do you say to his comments?

Dominik Duka,  photo: Archives of Radio Prague
“First of all, we need to point out that Prague Pride is not just the Saturday parade. We have a whole week of different events: debates, screenings of films, theatre plays, discussions with international guests and much more.

“So I would love to invite Mr. Dominik Duka or any other person to see the programme of Prague Pride and maybe participate in some of the events.”

But are you at all offended by what he said yesterday?

“Offended is too strong a word. What we feel is misunderstanding of what Prague Pride is.

Photo: Miloslav Hamřík,  ČRo
“Of course we are not very surprised by his position. On the other hand, we are here to open debate and to provide an opportunity for people with different opinions to meet.

“I would say there is discrimination of LGBT people within the church and that is why we are raising these topics at Prague Pride.

“I would say that the fact that Dominik Duka felt the urgency to issue this statement is one of the proofs that the situation of LGBT people in the church is not free and is not totally equal with other people.”