New law proposal would allow children to change their gender and promote LGBT rights in Czechia
A whole raft of changes could be coming to Czechia, including allowing children to officially change their sex, the legalization of same-sex marriage, and changes to the criminal code to better punish attacks against the LGBTI+ community.
These are some of the proposed changes presented in the "Government Strategy for Equality and Removing Barriers to a Dignified Life of LGBTI+ People in the Czech Republic 2021-2026" under the leadership of the Government's Commissioner for Human Rights Helena Válková. The strategy is currently under comment procedure, however, criticism is already rising against these progressivist steps, mainly from the right and center parties. According to them, some proposals are unconstitutional and even inhumane.
Besides Válková, the document was also co-created by the committee for sexual minorities of the Czech Council for Human Rights. The authors cite a survey of the former public defender of human rights, Anna Šabatová, as one of the reasons for creating the whole strategy. Šabatová's survey showed that a large part of the LGBTI+ community in the Czech Republic encounters prejudice, discrimination, harassment, and violence due to their sexual orientation and identity.
The survey stated that over 10 percent of LGBTI+ employees have experienced discrimination and have to hide their sexual orientation at work. About 55 percent of people in this group have experienced verbal attacks.
"Such a situation prevails, for example, in healthcare or education, where almost half of the LGBTI+ people have encountered negative reactions based on their sexual orientation or identity. These are just some examples of the situation of LGBTI+ people in the Czech Republic. It is, therefore, necessary to adopt a strategy and implement the measures proposed in it," the document states.
On the other hand, the authors note that the Czech public is considered tolerant, and the tolerance towards this minority is increasing. But tolerance is not enough, they say, adding that it should be replaced with respect.
The strategy then proposes several legislative changes, which should enter into force at the end of 2023. At that time, the criminal code is to be extended to include crimes motivated by sexual orientation and gender identity or other reasons. The group, led by Válková, promises that LGBTI+ members should have sufficient legal protection against hate attacks.
But the strategy also focuses on children. For example, the proposal states that currently, only adults over the age of 18 can undergo official gender reassignment surgery. According to the document, the situation is very complicated for teenagers who desire to act in school based on how they identify themselves.
"This situation then causes them severe psychological problems, which often lead to suicides. Thus, official gender reassignment surgery should also be possible for adolescents after puberty," says the progressive strategy.
However, politicians who do not agree with the changes stand up to the draft strategy.
"Unfortunately, this only shows how terribly radical the positions of the entire department of the Government Commissioner for Human Rights has adopted over the years under the influence of the left and how it will be necessary to completely reconstruct it after the elections," said Marek Benda from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS).
He considers the mentioned examples from the strategy to be nonsense.
"In the case of children, it is completely inhumane. In the case of crimes, it is fundamentally contrary to freedom of expression," added Benda.
Marek Výborný, the former chairman of the Christian and Democratic Union (KDU-ČSL) and a member of the Constitutional Law Committee, voiced similar concerns.
"I do not think that we should approach similar proposals and legislative tasks under the guise of so-called hyper-correctness. I am convinced that if this government wants to push through some fundamental things at the end of its term, we will return to it after the elections and, at least, adjust the strategy if we need it at all," said Výborný.
In contrast, the Pirates agree with the document. In particular, MP František Kopřiva claims that the strategy is a step in the right direction as, so far, the government has lacked such a model.
"Even today, belonging to a nation, ethnic group, race, religion, class or other group is specifically protected by law. The addition of gender and sexual identity and other similar facts, such as age or disability, does not mean a significant interference with the legal order," said Kopřiva.
Title image: In this Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020 file photo, people hold a protest rally in front of Poland's Education Ministry in Warsaw, Poland against the appointment of a new education minister Przemyslaw Czarnek. The European Parliament is due to debate a resolution that would symbolically declare the entire 27-member European Union to be a “freedom zone” for LGBT people. The resolution comes largely in reaction to developments over the past two years in Poland, where many local communities have adopted largely resolutions declaring themselves to be free of what Polish conservative authorities have controversially dubbed “LGBT ideology.”