Drag queen's story time event for kids in Brno sparks protests

Part of Brno Pride Week, the event became the target of a right-wing group that says it is trying to protect families.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 06.06.2023 16:00:00 (updated on 06.06.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

The backlash against drag queens reading to children has arrived in Czechia. About 20 people protested in front of Kino Art, a cinema where drag queen Ivory Divine was scheduled to read a fairy tale to children as part of Brno Pride Week. The event was meant to introduce parents and children to diversity as a natural part of today's society.

The Czech group Alliance for the Family (AliPRO) has been trying to stop the event since it was announced. Last week, the group asked its members and the public to contact the festival organizers as well as Brno Mayor Markéta Vaňková and South Moravia Governor Jan Grolich to ask them to cancel the reading.

In an open letter, AliPRO cited the opinions of several psychologists who claim such storytime events are harmful to children. The letter also cited the growing number of states in the U.S. that have passed or are trying to pass laws against drag queens reading to children and asked the mayor and governor to withdraw their support for the event.

Only invited people could attend

Due to the hostile atmosphere, the festival organizers decided to limit attendance to 50 people who were on a guest list. The fairytale concerned two male penguins who hatch an abandoned egg.

"Our main motivation was the safety of the children because the last few days have been very unpleasant. We even considered calling off the whole event. But we are very glad we didn't and that today's event was a success. The children were happy and everything went as it should," festival director Michaela Chylová told ČTK.

No regional support went to the event

Opponents who arrived outside the cinema reportedly shouted derogatory comments about the LGBTQ+ community and warned that God would judge the participants in the reading.

Protesters also objected to the reading getting funding from the South Moravia region. Festival spokeswoman Šárka Strýhalová told news site iDnes that although the governor's office supported Brno Pride Week, not a single crown went to this specific part of the program.

Protesters told reporters that they perceive drag queens who read to children as potential pedophiles. Some protesters said there is nothing to debate because the event is "obviously wrong."

"I have nothing against gays, but a person with a mental disorder should not confuse children like this. I wanted to see the parents who would go there and find out why, but they didn't let us in," a protester said, according to ČTK.

Positive responses from those who attended

A mother who attend the reading with her son evaluated the event positively. “For me it was rest. My son played with toy cars there, listened to a fairytale, and then we had breakfast. He enjoyed the story about penguins. We go to the zoo often, although he prefers sharks," she told iDnes.

The event was held in cooperation with the Jiří Mahen Library, which has been cooperating with Queer Code Brno since last year. The library has held several lectures on LGBTQ+ issues for teenagers. “It has always been our priority to make everyone feel welcome,” Iveta Cehelská, head of the library's children and youth department, said.

The Brno Pride Week festival, which runs from June 2 to 11, has over 40 cultural and social events, from film screenings and theater performances to barbecue gatherings. The festival is being held for the third time and for the first time in a larger format thanks to a subsidy from the region.

Do you think these protests are justified?

Yes, everyone has a right to an opinion 39 %
No, they're nonsense 61 %
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