Gay Marriage in the Czech Republic

Since the 12th of June 2018, The Equal Marriage Bill has laid dormant in the Czech parliament. If enacted, this would allow same-sex couples to be married in the Czech Republic. We look at opinion polls and ask people on the street to find out if the stalling of this legislation is against public opinion or if it is reflective of a change of heart of the Czech people.

Since the The Equal Rights Bill entered the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of the Czech Parliament), there has been no voting on any amendments, indicating there is little attempt to pass it from within the house. On the 12th of June there was even a happening organised by the Coalition for Marriage, an organisation made up of six pressure groups: Amnesty International, Logos, Mezipatra, Prague Pride, PROUD and Queer Geography. Still, this has not been enough to force action on the bill.

According to The Public Opinion Research Centre (Centrum pro výzkum veřejného mínění), 47% of those polled agreed that same-sex marriage should be legal in 2019 which is a 3% drop from last years 50%. So, there is no clear majority either way, possibly explaining the stalling of the bill in parliament as political parties may be afraid of electoral damage either way they vote.

Speaking to a woman called Petra in an LGBT accepting bar in Prague, we found out many of those in favour of gay marriage may believe registered partnerships ‘are not the same as marriage’ because they put a ‘weird label’ on you. A man named Daniel agreed with this and said progress needed to be made in the villages where there are ‘maybe some issues’ concerning acceptance of gays and gay marriage. He compared this to the cities where he thinks being gay is seen as ‘absolutely normal and actually nobody cares’.

However, while in the cities there is more support of same-sex marriage, there are many people in the Czech Republic who do not agree with it. Reasons for this could be religious. Over 10% of Czech people are Catholic (according to the Czech Statistical Office in 2011), a religion that does not yet allow same-sex marriage. Other reasons could be overall conservative values, fearing societal damage from disrupting an institution that has been between a man and a woman for millennia. Furthermore, if the bill were passed, pressure would likely mount to expand adoption laws to make gay couples eligible to adopt. This may cause further upset to Catholics and may be of more concern to conservatives who think children should be parented by a man and a woman.

Whatever the consequences, the issue of same-sex marriage will not be resolved in the Czech Republic until The Equal Rights Bill is confronted by the Chamber of Deputies. Public opinion is not changing fast and the cultural division between the cities and the countryside don’t seem to be going anywhere, so it may take time for a final decision to be made which satisfies the people.

By Tom Collyer

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