Prague Pride 2017 urges acceptance

The festival wants to push people beyond simple tolerance

Over the past six years, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) festival Prague Pride has become an important part of summer culture in Prague. Again this year it will address new and taboo topics, it will create a space where a heterosexual majority can meet LGBT community and it will bring guests from abroad. Prague Pride will take place Aug. 7 to 13, 2017. The parade is Aug. 12.

Tolerance and respect are the main topics this year. Some politicians and part of the public claim that it is pointless to hold such festival because gay men and lesbians are largely tolerated in the Czech Republic. Prague Pride 2017 aims to show the difference between mere tolerance and respect because all human beings deserve to be respected.

“We tolerate people who talk loudly on their phones in restaurants or unfriendly cashiers in a supermarket. We tolerate things that are actually wrong but somehow we find understanding for them. But what is there to tolerate about someone being gay or lesbian? We don’t want tolerance, we want acceptance,” says Kateřina Saparová, the director of Prague Pride. “People get born with heterosexual or homosexual orientation. No one chooses it deliberately,” she added.

For this reason, the festival campaign uses animated characters who claim that the situation of LGBT people in the Czech Republic is just fine and that there is no need for Prague Pride. What they say may sound friendly at the first glance but in reality, it shows their feelings of superiority or fear. These statements are commonly repeated in the Czech society and prove the need for such festival. The campaign was created by the agency Made by Vaculik Praha and the author of the animated figures is Václav Matoušek.

“The campaign includes statements that LGBT people often hear around them. Such as that being gay or lesbian is fine as long as it is not shown in public. We don’t need such tolerance. We have the same right to publicly acknowledge our partners, hold hands on the street or talk about holidays we spent with our partners,” Saparová says.

The guest list of Prague Pride shows that you can find LGBT people in all spheres of the society. “Homosexuality isn’t a trend or fashion as we sometimes hear. LGBT people existed also in times when they faced persecution and they can be found also in church despite its negative stance on this issue. Homosexuality is not something that was created in the West, it appears also in traditional Eastern societies,” says Radek Miřácký, the festival programmer. Among the guests of the festival will be:

Russian lesbian historian Irina Roldugina who recently found unpublished files on LGBT citizens in Soviet archives dated back to the Stalin era.

Jayne Ozanne who is a member of the General Synod of the Anglican Church and was invited by LGBT believers’ association LOGOS. Since her coming out in 2015, Jayne has actively worked for the interests of LGBT+ people in the church. At The Church of England’s synod last weekend, she initiated a vote on a ban of conversion therapy. The synod condemned the practice, which aims to change sexual orientation, as unethical and potentially harmful.

Jennifer Lu who has coordinated Taiwan Marriage Equality Coalition since 2016. In May 2017, the ruling of Taiwan’s High Court backed marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Ellie Lust, Dutch policewoman who is a chairwoman of the organization Pink in Blue, which unites gay policeman and policewomen and fights against aggression directed at LGBT people.

Prague Pride 2017 starts with an opening concert in Pride Village (Střelecký Island) on Monday 7 Aug. 7. The parade will take place Aug. 12 and will follow a traditional route from Wenceslas Square to Letná park.

This year, Prague Pride is held under the auspices of Jan Chvojka, the Minister for Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Legislation; Adriana Krnáčová, the Mayor of Prague; and Hana Třeštíková, councilor for culture and neighbors’ relations of city district Prague 7.

You can find the complete program of Prague Pride 2017 on www.praguepride.cz and on the mobile app Convene from Thomson Reuters, available for iOS and Android. Most of the events of Prague Pride have a free admission.

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