Order No Rainbows

Life as an expat, Photography, Crafts, Vegan Food, Music, Art, Animals…..

Blansko from A to Z. Q is for…

on May 26, 2013

Queer. This post is not specific to Blansko, but as it’s about an issue that really annoys me, I’m including it, because I live in Blansko, and therefore as far as I’m concerned it’s relevant. As the cliche goes, some of my best friends are gay people. During the years I worked in the UK I spent many years working for local government, where the emphasis was on celebrating and valuing diversity, and in other organisations where diversity was tolerated, if not valued or celebrated. So I have been dismayed by the way people in this country deal with the idea of some of their colleagues, neighbours, or fellow citizens being gay. It’s like travelling back in time to the 1950s, at the earliest. Homosexuality is referred to obliquely, if at all, and in a “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” manner more suited to a “Carry On” movie than to real life.

The issue has become very public this week, with controversy over the Czech Republic’s President, Milos Zeman, refusing to authorise the appointment of a university professor, Martin C Putna, who works at Charles University in Prague. Mr. Putna is a leading Czech literary historian and an expert on Catholic literature. He has authored some highly acclaimed works, including a spiritual biography of Václav Havel and a study on homosexuality in the history of Czech culture. President Zeman, a man not noted for his liberal views, was quite coy about his reasons for refusing to appoint Mr Putna, but the reason is believed to relate to Putna’s participation in the 2011 Gay Pride Parade in Prague, where he carried a placard which read “Catholic queers salute Batora” (Batora is an ultra-conservative former public official who then served as advisor to the education minister). The story was published in English by the Prague Monitor and can be read here.

There was, thankfully, outrage about Zeman’s behaviour, and the issue received widespread media coverage. On Wednesday, an agreement of sorts was reached, which meant that Mr Putna’s appointment was authorised, but that he would receive his decree from the minister from education rather than from the president and that President Zeman would not shake his hand. For further details read the story here. On May 23 some 200 students staged a protest against Zeman’s actions. This story, also published by the Prague Monitor can be read here.

All of this has made me think about how difficult it must be for gay people to come out to their friends and families here, and to be able to live their lives without being the subject of prejudice and hostility. There are gay people in the Czech Republic, and in small towns like Blansko, just like there are everyhere else, and they will continue to exist no matter how much some people want to deny it. When I think of how much my gay friends and colleagues have enriched my life, I can’t help but feel sorry for the people who are trapped in outdated mindsets like that of President Zeman. And I wonder how someone like him can possibly be elected as leader of a country that wants to be part of the European Union, and of the developed world. How can he claim to represent all of his country’s people when he won’t shake one Czech citizen’s hand? How can he sleep at night? And how can people let him get away with behaving like this? “He won’t be president forever” is one response I’ve heard when discussing this issue. But he’s president now. And his behaviour sets the tone for the behaviour of other people in this country.

So here’s a picture of a rainbow flag, which I would love to see outside shops, pubs and other businesses in Blansko. I’m sharing this photo because I’m proud to support the rights of gay people, transgender people and anyone else whose human rights are threatened by vile “individuals” like Milos Zeman. He may be the president but that doesn’t mean he’s right. Or that everyone that lives in this country agrees with what he does. I don’t!

Rainbow

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