Elections 2021: Where do Czech political parties stand on same-sex marriage?

The hesitant stance of most parties towards same-sex marriage means reform is unlikely to come in the next parliament.

 William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 07.10.2021 16:09 (updated on 07.10.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Czech Republic lags behind many other European countries on gay rights. In the latest ILGA Rainbow Europe map of LGBT+ rights, the country scored a measly 26 percent, behind other countries in the region such as Slovakia and Hungary.

With elections approaching on October 8-9, it might have been hoped that a new parliament would push through greater reform. Yet with few Czech parties supporting same-sex marriage, the LGBT+ community in the country is likely to have to wait longer for equality.

Unlike in some neighboring countries, public support for gay marriage is high in the Czech Republic. A number of politicians and public figures meanwhile speak out strongly in support of marriage equality, including at Prague City Hall, which flies a rainbow flag to celebrate Pride week. A Median poll has meanwhile suggested that as many as 67 percent of Czechs support the idea of gay marriage.

This public support has not yet translated into widespread political backing, though, and this situation which seems unlikely to change in the coming election. Only the Pirates+STAN coalition and the Social Democrats (ČSSD) openly support same-sex marriage and adoption for gay couples. The leader of TOP 09, Markéta Pekarová Adamová, has expressed personal support for gay marriage, but this stance is not shared by her party as a whole.

The ruling ANO party has failed to bring about reform during its term in power, despite tabling legislation concerning same-sex marriage in 2018. Although leader Andrej Babiš publicly declared support for same-sex marriage two years ago, ANO politicians would be allowed to vote according to individual choice on the issue, as would SPOLU and Příhasa MPs. The SPD, Communist and Trikolóra parties do not support same-sex marriage, and the SPD condemns the idea of adoption of children by homosexual couples.

Persistent opposition to same-sex marriage among Czech politicians was recently highlighted when Marián Jurečka, the leader of the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL), said he could not imagine participating in a government which would introduce equal marriage for everyone. Although Jurečka later qualified his statement, fellow SPOLU coalition party leader Petr Fiala (ODS) has also said his view of marriage is a traditional one, meaning a union between a man and a woman.

Opposition to LGBT+ rights remains commonplace in the Czech political sphere. Czech President Miloš Zeman recently made international headlines by describing transgender people as “disgusting.”

“I can understand gays, lesbians, and so on. But do you know what I don’t understand at all? Transgender people,” the President said.

“If someone undergoes a sex-change operation, he commits the crime of self-harm. Every operation is a risk. And these transgender people are really disgusting to me,” he continued.

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The President's comments were lambasted by LGBT+ rights activists for threatening the mental health of people struggling to come to terms with their own sexuality. Campaigners argue that allowing gay marriage would help legitimize all non-heterosexual relationships in a country where traditional attitudes, such as that expressed by Zeman, remain strong.

For gay couples, such a change would also rectify disparities in support provided by the state for homosexual and heterosexual couples. Gay couples in the Czech Republic currently cannot adopt children, do not officially share property, and they are not entitled to a widow’s pension.

Putting partnerships for LGBT+ people on an equal official footing with those of heterosexual couples is vital to introducing similar support structures and possibilities. But parties’ hesitation on the issue means the required legislative change may still be some way off.

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