Next week’s Prague Pride festival will celebrate LGBT culture through over 100 events culminating in a parade through the city centre that has in the past seen 20,000 participants. The 2014 Pride, the fourth, is the first to take place under the auspices of a government minister. I discussed the significance of that support with festival head Czeslaw Walek. But I began by asking him what the thinking was behind the slogan of this year’s Prague Pride, Rise Up Against Homophobia.
“For the first time in the history of Prague Pride we decided to look outside of the borders of the Czech Republic and to look at the situation of lesbians, gays, transgender people and bisexuals in other countries, especially in those countries where our rights are violated.
“But the slogan is not only directed at these countries but also at the Czech Republic, because when you look at the recent numbers, around 53 percent of Czechs wouldn’t advise LGBT people to come out in their villages or small towns.”
You’re going to have the possibility of people who aren’t actually in Prague having “avatars” at Pride. What does that actually mean?
“This is part of our campaign. We don’t only want to inform people about the situation of LGBT people outside the Czech Republic – we also want to give the possibility to people living in countries like Uganda, Russia and elsewhere, where they can’t have Prides, we want to give the virtual possibility to take part in our Pride.
“So we created this application and a website where we can connect people from those countries with people who are participating in Prague Pride. They can communicate via the website and the app and they can show them what’s going on, they can write slogans that those Russians and Ugandans want us to see, etc.”
One of the patrons this year is the minister for human rights, Jiří Dienstbier, who is the first cabinet member who has supported Pride in this way. What does that mean to you?
“For us it’s very important because it’s very clear that the government is starting to take the issue of LGBT rights seriously. You can also see that these days the Parliament is starting to discuss an amendment to the law on registered partnerships.”
Prague Pride will culminate on Saturday August 16 with the traditional parade. But what other events would you like to highlight during the whole week?
“Of those that I’m looking forward to, it’s definitely the lighting of the Glorietta by the American Embassy [when the building is lit up in the colours of the rainbow] again, from Monday.
“On Wednesday we have a talk show with LGBT activists and personalities from all over the world; it’s at the French Institute and is called Pride Voices. And we have a concert by Pet Shop Boys.”