President defends Hájek and balks at city support for event
President Václav Klaus has backed a key aide in the wake of a series of anti-gay comments, as the international community has redoubled its support for the Prague Pride festival, the capital’s first-ever LGBT pride event.
Petr Hájek, a controversial adviser to the president who is known, among other things, for insisting that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against the United States were staged, called homosexuals “deviant fellow citizens,” in an opinion piece posted on the Parliamentlisty.cz website.
He then targeted Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, who is supporting the Prague Pride event that runs Aug. 10-14, for criticism.
Hájek went on to call the “white man, heterosexual and Christian” an endangered species.
“It is a world in which sexual or any other deviation is elevated to a virtue, abnormality to a norm, the destruction of society to holy progress,” he continued.
The opinions drew criticisms from a number of fronts including the opposition Social Democratic (ČSSD) Shadow Minister for Human Rights Michaela Marksová-Tominová, who said Hajek was inciting “hatred against a minority population in our country.” Junior government coalition party Public Affairs (VV) also condemned the comments.
For his part, Klaus termed the criticisms of Hájek an “attack on free speech” and argued that the word “deviance” (deviace) was “value-neutral.” Klaus said he “resolutely rejects” demands that he distance himself from Hájek’s comments, in a posting on his personal website.
“Though the statements were not mine, and I would probably choose slightly different words, I do not feel any pride in the event either,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, 13 Prague-based embassies have issued a joint statement in support of the Prague Pride event.
“We express out solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in the Czech Republic, supporting their right to use this occasion to march together peacefully and lawfully, in order to raise awareness of the specific issues that affect them,” the statement said.
“Our governments seek to combat such discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by promoting the human rights of all people.”
Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda (Civic Democrats, ODS) told The Prague Post that he supports “every event which contributes to wider cultural and social offerings of our city.”
Prague 1 Mayor Oldřich Lomecký is also a patron of the event.
“These are claustrophobic views, and the tip of the iceberg is [Norwegian terrorist Andres Behring] Breivik,” he told the Czech News Agency in response to Hájek’s statements. “This view leads to intolerance.”
Among others who have voiced opposition to the Prague Pride event is the Education Ministry’s personnel department head Ladislav Bátora, who formerly ran for office on the ticket of an extreme right nationalist party.
Organizers of the Prague Pride event have declined to react to Hájek’s comments, citing their irrelevance.
“I consider opinions recently published in the media as marginal opinions of a few people,” Prague Pride President Czeslaw Walek said at an Aug. 9 press conference. “Unfortunately, it’s summer, and no news is taking place.”