Jsme Fér is an organization fighting for marriage equality in the Czech Republic. Their main goal is to help Czech policymakers recognize the unequal treatment of the LGBTQ community in the country when it comes to the institution of marriage and all the benefits that come with it.
As of now, the LGBTQ people can only enter a registered partnership, while also facing multiple other issues.
Prague Morning spoke to Filip Milde, the media representative of Jsme Fér, amid the recent Parliament discussions on passing the bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. These discussions officially started at the end of May, but, as of now, have not reached a concrete verdict.
“This is the second time that the marriage equality bill was introduced, the first one being in 2018. So far, the MPs spent a little under 5 hours debating the bill. Let’s say that our system is not the most effective when it comes to discussing these bills,” explains Filip.
“The most rigid opponents of the bill simply keep avoiding talking about it and the discussion can drag on indefinitely. We are just begging them to push the bill through to the legislative process. Even society is begging them. The debate has been going on for a long time. Push it through to the legislative process and vote!”
Indeed, the legalization of same-sex marriage would be a major win for LGBTQ people in the Czech Republic. While entering a registered partnership has been legal since 2006, legalizing the institution of marriage would come with a wide array of benefits that would grant equality to most citizens in the country, according to Filip.
“There are more than a hundred differences between marriage and registered partnership. One of them is the fact that this division even exists, this categorizing of people and families. Another major one would be joint parenting rights,” explains Filip.
Currently, LGBTQ people can adopt and foster children. However, they are not legally allowed to do so as a couple, meaning that the adopted child can legally only have one parent. However, during the process of adoption, the state evaluates them as a couple, with both parties obliged to go through the psychological and economic evaluation – only to later dismiss the status of one of the partners as a legal parent, according to Filip.
This makes obtaining state financial support that much harder. “The state gives special financial support to foster families. But LGBTQ families are not getting that support, because there is legally only one parent,” explains Filip.
In addition to this, LGBTQ people in the Czech Republic face other issues: gay men are not eligible to donate blood, transgender people need to go through the process of sterilization before being able to legally change their name and gender on official documents, and some data shows around 30% of LGBTQ people “go back in the closet” in their workplace, according to Filip.
However, the overall acceptance of the LGBTQ community and same-sex marriage in the Czech Republic has been on the rise.
“There is continuous research, independent from our organization, that shows overwhelming support of the Czech society towards same-sex marriage. The most recent survey showed us that 72% of Czech citizens support same-sex marriage, which is one of the highest support rates in the world,” says Filip. “We are a bright exception when it comes to the countries in this area of the world. Sadly, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary are all going in the opposite direction, even though the same survey shows positive trends in Poland and Hungary, where public support for marriage equality is also on the rise. ”
“The problem is not the society, not at all,” continues Filip. “The problem is in the politicians. This is the most conservative MP representation that we’ve ever had. The Chamber of Deputies is being represented by religious people that are pushing their agenda in a secular country, against the will of their people.”
To push the Chamber of Deputies towards a concrete decision, Jsme Fér is organizing an event on Tuesday, 13th June at Malostranské náměstí. There is going to be a photo exhibition of 10 different LGBTQ families and their children, set up to remind the Chamber of Deputies why equality matters. The event will start at 8:30 in the morning and continue throughout the day.
You can find more information here.
“We believe that all people should be treated equally. There shouldn’t be any differences between people, couples, families, and their kids. That is also clearly stated in our Constitution, that all people should be equal. So, we just want to fulfill that,” concludes Filip.
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