January 3, 2001 – PlanetOut
Gay Named Slovak Man of 2000
Activist Peter Kralik has been working to bring gay and lesbian visibility to Slovakia, and an international magazine has given him just that. The Slovak Republic has a long way to go towards equal treatment of gays and lesbians, but its international weekly The Slovak Spectator did something few Western publications have done: selected a gay activist as its Man of the Year for 2000. Peter Kralik told the Spectator that, “I am a professional gay. I’m trying to help change society so that more Slovaks can come out, and so that others accept the natural fact that homosexuals exist in Slovakia, and that we have always been here and will always be here.”
Kralik is a spokesperson for Inakost (Difference), a national coalition of various Slovak gay and lesbian groups which he played a key role in bringing together over the last two years. He said, “We’re a representative organ for all homosexuals and their interests. This is the first time in Slovakia where all the different gay organizations have gotten together on a common ground.” The timing turned out to be perfect, because Inakost was there to respond in August when Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky vowed publicly to block any legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples on the grounds that it would “degrade the family”.
Kralik said Carnogursky’s continuing anti-gay pronouncements actually helped Inakost by bringing gay and lesbian issues into the public discourse and drawing media attention to the new group. Slovak media learned how to cover the issues without stereotyping gays and lesbians and some members of parliament from other political parties contacted Inakost in a spirit of cooperation.
Kralik sees the invisibility of gays and lesbians, the denial of their existence particularly in areas outside the cities, as the first barrier to their winning equality in Slovakia. He said, “So we want to show ourselves as often as we can and point out at the same time that we are here and we are just like anybody else. We’re now at the beginning, we are still at the starting line. In the Czech Republic [which he views as the most advanced of the former Soviet states on gay and lesbian issues], they’ve already run the marathon of making their community official. We still have a long way to run.” He believes his vision of an accepting Slovakia will be realized in ten to fifteen years.
Kralik’s selection as Man of the Year was applauded by Czech President Vaclav Havel’s press secretary Martin Krafl, who announced publicly in September that he is a gay man himself. Krafl told the Spectator that, “Selecting him as Man of the Year is a great act. Any person who defends the rights of minorities is worth the title of Man or Woman of the Year.”
November 7, 2000 – Slovak Spectator, Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Tolerant Dutch Fund Slovak Gay Magazine
by Chris Togneri
Bratislava – For the first time in its history, Slovakia has a non-pornographic homosexual magazine, a feat its Slovak creators said would not have been possible were it not for the Dutch community in Slovakia. The Dutch, long considered beacons of liberalism by the international community for their stances on abortion, hard drugs, legalized marijuana and prostitution, have in this country been lauded for their open-mindedness and acceptance.
“If it weren’t for the Dutch embassy’s support of the [Atribut gay/lesbian] magazine, we would have had to find some other way to get the money,” said Mariin Grec, spokesperson for the Bratislava-based HaBiO homosexual rights group and external editor of the magazine. “We needed the financing because we wanted to create a magazine focused only on the social, political and cultural themes of the homosexual community.”
“Other magazines, for example in the Czech Republic, tried to do this but they struggled,” Grec continued. “They could only survive if they teamed up with a pornographic homosexual magazine. But we did not want to be associated with porn, we wanted to concentrate purely on homosexual issues.” The Dutch embassy’s contribution of 300,000 Slovak crowns ($6,000) made the goal attainable. “We decided to finance the magazine for one year in order to encourage its growth,” said Dutch Ambassador to Slovakia Henk Soeters. “We provided the financial initiative and now we hope it bears fruit.”
“The Dutch also supported our April gay and lesbian film festival,” Grec added. “They are an open-minded, politically correct, liberal people and they have been a great help in Slovakia by setting positive examples.” While being praised as tolerant, however, the Dutch themselves say that they are doing nothing more here in Slovakia than what comes naturally to them. “We have a long tradition of being traders,” explained Soeters. “A trading tradition brings the influence of different cultures into our country. And having these different influences creates a liberal society, one in which we are open to other people and allow for different lifestyles.” Dutchman Eduard Wienk, the owner of Class language school in Bratislava, explained that Dutch liberalism was a result of verzuiling (or ‘pillarisation’), a Dutch political philosophy in which the socialists, Protestants, Catholics and liberals of the country were divided into groups so as to identify the major societal influences.
“In order to create laws everyone can live with, you first need to identify the differences,” said fellow Dutchman Jan Waanders, the founder of Click Eastblock Internet company in Bratislava. “For different sub-societies living together in one country you need to come to a consensus in order to have everything function,” Wienk said. But identifying differences does not always translate into acceptance. In recent months, Slovaks have been criticized internationally for their treatment of the Roma (Gypsy) minority, for not controlling their violent skinheads and for their intolerance of homosexuals, an accusation which arose after Justice Minister and ex-Christian Democrat party boss Jan Carnogursky said that a homosexual partnership law would never hit the books as long as he held his post, and that Slovak gays who did not like it could “leave [the country] if they want to”.
Acceptance of social difference, as Carnogursky has shown, is a characteristic Slovaks are sometimes lacking. “The Dutch point of view is clear: We want Slovakia in the European Union,” Soeters said. “But societies which are not open are not acceptable to the new Europe. The transition from a closed society to an open society requires tolerance and the acceptance of difference.”
“With an open approach,” he added, “you can achieve the best results, which are a consensus of all the groups involved.” While saying that their liberalism is second nature, the Dutch natives living in Slovakia say they do not want to be seen as tub-thumping preachers on a mission to correct aspects of foreign societies they see as wrong.
“Like everyone else, I probably compare the things I see here to my own country and make a judgement,” Wienk said. “But we are still very open and when we are here in Slovakia we say, ‘OK, we are in your country so we will speak your language. And oh, you have halusky? So I want to try some’.” “This attitude allows us to adapt quite easily to different situations,” Waanders added. “We’re quite flexible and I honestly think that if you put us in Indonesia or wherever else it would be the same way. We are interested in the society in which we are living.”
But adaptability does not necessarily mean that all events in the host country pass without comment. In regard to Carnogursky’s comments on homosexuals, Soeters chose his words carefully, finally settling on: “Sometimes Slovak leaders think that their statements will be heard only by their followers, when in reality their words will be on the Internet within five minutes. They should realize that some of those comments will be observed by the international audience and that many will find such statements remarkable.”
September 1, 2000 – Slovak Spectator, Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Justice Minister Recommends Gays Seek Treatment
by Tom Nicholson
Bratislava – Homosexuals should get themselves into treatment, according to Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky and should not expect to see a law passed legalising homosexual marriages at least for the duration of his term. Speaking at a press conference August 17, Carnogursky chairman of the government coalition Christian Democrats party, said that giving homosexual relationships similar status to those enjoyed by men and women in heterosexual marriages “degrades the family.” A draft law that would give homosexuals in long-term relationships the status of “registered partners” has been ready since 1997, but was not approved by the cabinet of then Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, or the current government of M. Dzurinda.
The law would allow homosexual partners, among other things, to refuse to testify in court against their mate, to take three days off work in the event of their partner’s death, and to deed property to each other without taxation.
But the Christian Democrats, triumphant after the approval of a treaty between Slovakia and the Vatican last week, maintained that the recent treaty pledged each side to protect monogamous heterosexual marriages as “the basis of a healthy society”. His tough stance against homosexuals, said Carnogursky, should be understood as “fulfilling the terms of the Vatican treaty”.
The Christian Democrats even produced a medical expert at the press conference — psychiatrist and Christian Democrat MP Alojz Rakis — to reinforce their claim that homosexuality was a disease. “In the past, when homosexuals were still being sent for treatment, I succeeded in curing two of five such patients — male homosexuals. The therapy was so successful that these homosexual individuals, who were living full-blown homosexual lifestyles, in the end formed heterosexual marriages and had children.
“I know for sure that one of these marriages is still healthy because he [the former patient] regularly sends me greetings,” said Rakis, adding that psychotherapy was successful in “curing” on average 52 percent of homosexual patients. The Christian Democrat statements drew both anger and ridicule from other psychiatrists and civil groups such as the Difference Initiative. Ludvik Nibilek, head of psychiatry at Roosevelt Hospital in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia’s largest medical institution, said that “homosexuality is a [genetic] condition, not a disease. Just as not even being stretched on the rack can make us grow if we are genetically small, the same is true of treatment for homosexuals, which usually causes only trauma to the patient”.
Mariin Vojtek of the Difference Initiative was equally dismissive of Carnogursky`s position. “Homosexuality in Slovakia is a hot potato that each person who catches it quickly passes it on to another so he doesn’t have to deal with it,” he said. Far from endangering the family unit or the institution of marriage, Vojtek added, homosexual partnerships “are a question of the decision of two people to take a common and lawful path through life.” The Difference Initiative was formed this past spring to promote a free society in which people do not suffer discrimination for their sexual orientation, religious faith, life goals or ethnic or racial background. The group’s Jozef Grec said: “Every post-communist society has a huge problem accepting sexual, racial or ethnic differences.”
German lesbian activist Ira Kormannshaus, who is active in Slovakia, also had a message for the Justice Minister. “Even Sigmund Freud said it was no more possible to treat homosexuals than it was to treat heterosexuals,” she remarked. Despite his insistence that homosexuality was curable, Carnogursky was not able to say how patients eager to rid themselves of the affliction should proceed, since homosexuality has not been included on the list of psychiatric diseases since 1973, and thus the cost of treating it would not likely be covered by Slovak medical insurance.
“I guess they’ll have to lie,” was Carnogursky`s advice to homosexuals who wanted the state to pay the cost of their medical rehabilitation.
Slovak Gays Oppose Minister’s Critical Stand On Gay Partnership
Bratislava – (BBC) The Otherness Association (Slovak Gay organization) and The Association of Sexual Minorities in Slovakia resolutely rejected and condemned discriminatory statements by Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky, who said for as long as he leads the department of justice, there would be no marriages between homosexuals. Carnogursky said that homosexuality is a disorder and that homosexuals should voluntarily undergo treatments. Carnogursky commented on the claim to adopt a law that would make homosexual marriages possible.
Otherness representative Marian Vojtek said Carnogursky’s statements could stir hate towards the homosexuals in Slovakia. He explained that registered partnerships would not endanger the society, families or marriages. It would only be a legitimate confirmation of the partnership of certain individuals. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands and France have laws allowing homosexual marriages.
Carnogursky suggests that homosexuals could conclude agreements and contracts in line with the Civil Code and thus regulate their ownership, property or successor matters. Head of the Slovak Psychiatric Society Alojz Rakus suggested that homosexual-friendly social climate along with a friendly law could inspire the rise of registered partnership of the homosexuals.
The discussion on registered partnership of homosexuals was inspired by the decision of erasing homosexuality from the list of mental disorders by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 1973. In mid June, ‘Atribut g/l’, a new magazine created with financial assistance from the Dutch embassy in Slovakia, appeared to bring objective information about the lives and problems of homosexuals in Slovakia.
New Slovakian Gay Film
‘Hanna and Her Brothers’ is one of the first films to come out of Eastern Europe to focus on gay characters. With its musical interludes and eclectic supporting cast it is a bright and hopeful film about finding one’s own path in life.
September 12, 2003 – Slovak Spectator, Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Gay rights activists protest ‘Catholic State’ threat
Gay rights activists who demonstrated their “Say it Loud” initiative on September 11, protesting against what they call efforts to turn Slovakia into a Catholic state, irritated older people who were also waiting for the Pope. Some verbally attacked the activists. A young priest calmed the situation by asking the angered older people to pray for the gay activists. Around a hundred young people carried banners with messages condemning discrimination. “I hold a different opinion; will you burn me?” read one of the banners.
The activists said they want Slovakia to remain a civic state that does not yield to one single ideology. They called for respecting sexual minorities and female movements.
July 14, 2004 – Slovak Spectator, Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Conservative protests Swedish verdict on anti-gay pastor
Interior Minister Vladimír Palko met Swedish Ambassador to Slovakia Cecilia Julin to protest a Swedish court’s recent decision to imprison a Protestant pastor for his comments about homosexuals, the news wire TASR wrote. “I object to such a verdict,” said Palko, who is a deputy leader of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), a conservative member of Slovakia’s four-party ruling coalition.
“I explained to Ms Julin that my position was like that of Martin Luther when he said: ‘Here I stand, I can do no other’,” the minister told journalists after the meeting. Pentecostal Church pastor Ake Green was convicted of inciting hatred against a group of people on the grounds of their sexual orientation. He was sentenced to one month in prison for saying that gays and lesbians were abnormal and a cancerous tumour in the body of society. Palko promised that, “with a KDH interior minister in Slovakia, no investigator will proceed against anyone in such a way.”
Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
May 17, 2007 – gaycitynews.com
Slovak, Yes; Indonesians, No
by Arthur S. Leonard
Both the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia rejected recent asylum claims by gay men from Indonesia, but the San Francisco court reversed a denial of asylum for a gay man from Slovakia. According to the court’s unpublished memorandum opinion in the Slovak case, issued on May 2, the petitioner “was kidnapped, beaten, and harassed” by police on two occasions, both times due to his sexual orientation. He fled to the United Kingdom, Austria, and eventually Mexico, from where he tried to enter the U.S. with a fake passport. In a hearing before a Justice Department immigration judge, the petitioner acknowledged his attempted illegal entry, but applied for asylum, an alternative route for avoiding deportation known as withholding of removal, and protection under the international Convention Against Torture, or CAT, to which the U.S. is a party.
The immigration judge (IJ) found the petitioner to be credible, but ruled that since he had never reported the police beatings to higher government authorities, he “could not establish that the Slovak government condones or acquiesces in such activities.” Both asylum and withholding of removal were denied, and the petitioner also failed in his bid for CAT protection because he “could not demonstrate that it was more likely than not that he would be tortured if returned to Slovakia.” The Board of Immigration Appeals, also a Justice Department unit, upheld the IJ’s decision.
The Court of Appeals found that denying asylum because the petitioner failed to report his beatings “was error.” In its 2004 Baballah v. Ashcroft decision, the 9th Circuit ruled that “there is no reporting requirement where the government is responsible for persecution.” The appeals court found that the petitioner “is statutorily eligible for asylum.” The court also said that the IJ abused his discretion by adding additional grounds to his asylum denial because the petitioner entered the country fraudulently. Given that he had found that the petitioner had “a subjective fear of returning to Slovakia,” he was “not permitted to discount this fear” in applying his discretionary authority. The immigration judge was ordered to reconsider his discretionary denial of asylum and his ruling on withholding of removal after applying the correct legal standard. However, the court upheld denial of CAT protection since the petitioner had not proved that he would face torture if returned to Slovakia.
This ruling spotlights an unfortunate pattern of misinformation among IJs about the prevailing legal standards that govern their rulings – and the need for enhanced professional education in the Justice Department. An entirely different three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit, ruling on May 3 in an Indonesian case, omitted discussion of any underlying facts, stating merely that although the petitioner provided evidence of anti-gay harassment and discrimination, his treatment “did not rise to the level of persecution.” Tellingly, the court found that the petitioner “did not introduce evidence that the government was unwilling or unable to control those who harassed him” and that there was no evidence to “demonstrate an objectively reasonable fear of future persecution.”
In fact, said the court, “the evidence shows that conditions for homosexuals in Indonesia are improving,” and the Indonesian man’s appeal was denied. The May 10 ruling by the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia details a gay Indonesian man’s discrimination and intimidation by local officials in his village, although the story is complicated by the petitioner’s relationship with an ethnic Chinese merchant, in an area where strong nationalism feeds bias against ethnic Chinese. The applicant was also forced to drop out of law school after the dean discovered that he was gay.
As in the 9th Circuit case, the court found no evidence that the Indonesian government was itself persecuting gays, noting that the nation’s Constitution had reportedly been amended to prohibit anti-gay discrimination (though in fact there has only been a proposed amendment not yet adopted). The court concluded that there was little evidence that problems encountered by the petitioner, other than the law school incident, were due to his sexual orientation, and that, in any event, they did not rise to the level of persecution required in an asylum petition. Conditions for gay people in Indonesia are improving, though they certainly don’t approach the level of respect gay rights have achieved in Western Europe, the gold standard on this issue. Asylum law is not concerned with such shortfalls, however; only with whether conditions are so intolerable that they meet the demanding threshold set by U.S. legislation and international conventions.
August 28, 2009 – Passport Magazine
by Stuart Haggas
Despite centuries of proud heritage, the historic city of Bratislava is just a teenager at heart. Once part of the vast Austro-Hungarian empire, Bratislava’s fortunes waned when that empire was disbanded following its defeat in World War I. Under the Treaty Of Versailles new borders were created, and the lands of the Czechs and the Slovaks were unified as the singular state of Czechoslovakia with the city of Prague at the helm. At the end of World War II, Czechoslovakia fell under the control of the Communist regime led by the USSR, but with the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, both the Czech Republic and Slovakia began a process that would lead them to independence from Russia and from each other. Slovakia declared itself a sovereign state in 1992, after which the Prime Ministers of both Slovakia and the Czech Republic negotiated details for disbanding—an event sometimes called the Velvet Divorce. On January 1, 1993 this process was completed, and Slovakia became one of Europe’s new countries, with Bratislava its new capital city.
Comparisons with Prague are inevitable, but these comparisons are unfair. Bratislava simply doesn’t have the architectural jewels, cultural attractions, or international gay scene that Prague has. This also means that Bratislava doesn’t have the tourist hordes that can blight the charms of Prague. Indeed, what you will find in Bratislava is an authentic flavor that hasn’t yet been diluted by global tourism.
When the New York Times recommended five great gay destinations in 2005, it ranked Bratislava alongside Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Manchester, and Montréal. You may wonder what the youthful capital city of this former Eastern Bloc country has to offer to warrant a place alongside such established queer hotspots. Although the story acknowledged that Bratislava’s gay scene is small, it also pointed out that the friendly Slovakian boys look like extras in a Bel Ami movie. This is not a coincidence, because this renowned gay porn studio, founded in 1993 and famous for its wholesome-looking young male performers, is based in Bratislava. Some of Bel Ami’s most lusted-after stars, including Lukas Ridgeston and Johan Paulik, are locals—discovered right here by the studio’s founder, George Duroy. Despite now being internationally recognized pornstars, both Lukas and Johan still live in Bratislava. Explore the streets, shops, and café-bars of this city and you too will spot the kind of fresh-faced students, athletes, and farm boys that you’d expect to see performing in a Bel Ami film.
Unlike Prague, which is known for its house of boys and brash stripper bars, Bratislava hasn’t capitalized on its status as a source for fresh new gay porn talent. Today, four years after that New York Times endorsement, the scene still revolves around a handful of small, friendly gay venues.
The premiere gay place is Apollon Club Disco, just a few minutes’ walk north of the old town. A series of small, interconnecting, basement rooms with low vaulted ceilings, it’s a fun and lively place to drink and dance with the locals. They’ve recently expanded and now operate Apollon Club Café, a bijou café-bar close to one of the city’s main shopping streets. Nearby is the new gay sauna Club Sauna Expert, which attracts a sexy twenty- and thirty-something crowd. Meanwhile, in an historic building close to Zupne Square, 4Pink’s is a tiny sugar candy-colored bar with a busy downstairs dancefloor. Open since 2006, it’s popular with lesbians and gay men.
Like the gay scene, the tourist attractions in Bratislava are low-key but worth sampling. Bratislava is situated on the shores of the Danube River, famously described as “the beautiful blue Danube” in the choral version of Johann Strauss’s popular waltz. The second largest river in Europe, the Danube nowadays is neither blue nor beautiful, but nevertheless it is essential to Bratislava’s prosperity. As the Danube connects Bratislava to other major European cities including Vienna, Budapest, and Belgrade, it’s vital as both a trade and tourist artery. Various Danube riverboat cruises take in Bratislava as a port of call, including the occasional gay cruise organized by companies such as RSVP Vacations. Situated just 60km apart, Bratislava and Vienna are Europe’s two closest capital cities, and traveling between them is quick, easy, and inexpensive by boat. The Twin City Liner high-speed catamaran connects both capitals in just 75 minutes. The Soviet-built, Stingray-esque hydrofoil known as the Rocket Speedboat makes the journey in 90 minutes.
Built on the northern bank of the Danube River, Staré Mesto (old town) was once entirely surrounded by medieval walls, and accessible via four fortified gates. Now, only towering St Michael’s Gate (Michalská Veza) remains. Dating from the 13th century, this photogenic landmark currently houses a small weaponry museum, which is worth a visit if only for the lovely view of old Bratislava from its sixth-floor balcony. Occupying a tight gap adjacent to this gate, in what was once a passageway used by sentries, is a building said to be the narrowest house in central Europe. With a frontage that’s just 130cm wide, this Lilliputian slice of real estate is today a rather incongruous fast food kebab shop.
Although there are few must-sees within the old town itself, the baroque palaces that line pedestrianized streets like Michalská and Ventúrska are beautifully restored and embellished with fancy detailing. As the old town is relatively small, it’s easy to just follow your nose and take a chance on what or who you encounter. Sooner or later, you’ll arrive at the main square, Hlavné Nám. A focal point of old Bratislava, this square is lined with coffee shops and restaurants, including the charming and gay-frequented Café Antik. The square is also the setting for a comprehensive calendar of events, from open-air concerts to festive Christmas and Easter markets. One building of note here is the Old Town Hall (Stará Radnica). Dating from the 14th century, the grand Gothic tower is the oldest part; but as the building was renovated and extended throughout the centuries, its façade also displays Renaissance, Baroque, and Neogothic architectural styles. One unplanned architectural addition you should seek out is the cannonball that’s embedded in the tower wall—a souvenir from 1809 when Napoleon’s army bombarded the city from across the Danube. Part of the building now houses the Municipal Museum, which mostly consists of uninspiring exhibits of archaeology and ethnography; so fast-forward by all that history to the torture chamber in the cellar, which contains gruesome artifacts that date back to the days when this was a prison.
At the old town’s southern perimeter, where a medieval moat once would have been, is Hviezdoslavovo Námestie, a majestic tree-lined boulevard that extends from the 1885 landmark Slovak National Theatre (Slovenské Národné Divadlo) all the way down to the banks of the Danube. One side of this boulevard is lined with bars and restaurants, the other is dominated by the grand Carlton Hotel, originally built in 1837 and recently restored in a classically elegant style by the Radisson SAS chain.
Another recommended place to stay is Art Hotel William. Behind the façade of a 1930s building on one of old Bratislava’s main pedestrianized streets is an upscale shopping mall with a sushi restaurant, a beauty salon, and several boutiques selling Italian brands like Giorgio Armani and Valentino. One of the glass-fronted stores functions as the hotel lobby, and on the top three floors are 32 spacious rooms with contemporary furnishings.
There are several 18th-century palaces worth seeking out, including the impressive Primatial Palace. Considered to be Bratislava’s finest neoclassical building, this historic palace is notable for its Hall Of Mirrors where Napoleon signed the Pressburg Peace Treaty in 1805, and for its unique collection of English tapestries dating from the 17th century. Built in 1760 as the summer palace of an Hungarian Count, the rococo-style Grassalkovich Palace was the apogee of 18th-century society, hosting balls attended by the Habsburg Royal Court and classical concerts conducted by renowned Austrian composer Joseph Haydn. Since 1996 it’s been the residence of Slovakia’s president, nowadays hosting the likes of presidents and other world leaders. The palace’s French-style gardens are open to the public.
On a hilltop to the northwest is a huge Soviet-era memorial, the Slavín Monument. Completed in 1960, this somewhat phallic ribbed obelisk, topped by the statue of a soldier holding a flag, is a memorial to the thousands of Soviet soldiers who lost their lives during World War II in the battle for Bratislava.
On the western edge of the old town is imposing St Martin’s Cathedral (Dóm Sv. Martina). The cathedral’s modest interior belies its regal history; between 1563 and 1830, when Bratislava was the coronation city of the Kingdom of Hungary, it saw the coronations of ten Hungarian kings, one queen, and eight royal consorts. In recognition of this, instead of a cross, the cathedral tower is capped by a gold-plated replica of the Hungarian crown. During the Communist era, the town planners displayed their distaste for religion by constructing a major highway directly in front, and so today the cathedral’s situation seems a bit desolate. The same highway paved over where Bratislava’s large Jewish quarter once stood.
March 1, 2010 – PinkNews
Slovakia to hold first Pride festival
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The eastern European country of Slovakia will hold a Pride festival this year. Dúhový (Rainbow) Pride will take place in Bratislava on 22nd May and is the first event of its kind in the country. Slovakia becomes the last country in the European Union to announce it will hold a Pride festival.
Few details have been announced but Romana Schlesinger, a spokesperson for the event, said: “Rainbow Pride Bratislava 2010 is an important step towards the visibility of lesbian and gay people in the public space. Pride is celebration of who we are, our identities, our presence and our civic participation in Slovak society.
“Pride is also a march for true equality for LGBT people with legal recognition for same-sex couples and the possibility for adoptions and assisted reproduction.” Paul Birrell, the chair of Pride London and regional director for InterPride, added: “This really is fantastic news. There are still so many countries around the world where it is illegal to be lesbian or gay, let alone hold a Pride event.
“It is shameful that even in Europe there have, up until now, been countries where it hasn’t been possible to celebrate Pride. There continues to be opposition and violence at some events, such as Sofia and Belgrade, but Slovakia is sending a strong message that no country in Europe is a pride-free zone.”
May 24, 2010 – PinkNews
Violence erupts at Slovakian Gay Pride march
by Christopher Brocklebank
Last Saturday’s debut Gay Pride march in Bratislava, Slovakia, had to be called off because of hundreds of neo-Nazis lining the planned route. The anti-gay protestors attacked the crowd of would-be marchers with rocks and tear-gas grenades and verbally abused them, branding them “deviants” and “perverts”.
The limited number of police employed as security suggested that the strength of opposition to the march had been grossly underestimated. However, 17 foreign embassies in the country issued a joint statement in support of the march. The statement said: “Our countries, like Slovakia, are committed to defending basic rights and freedoms and in ensuring equality and dignity for all.”
British Ambassador Michael Roberts said: “I was quite pleased by how quickly the Pride security and the police dealt with the various incidents.” However, Jan Slota, who is head of the Slovak National Party which is a coalition partner in Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government had said he would attend the parade personally, “in order to spit”. His comment drew little criticism from leading politicians in this largely Catholic country.
03-June-2010 – GLT
Skinheads attack Slovak Pride
by Rex Wockner
At least 80 skinheads attacked the rally that preceded the first gay Pride parade in Bratislava, Slovakia, on May 22. The assaults injured two people and forced the relocation of the festivities. Member of the European Parliament Ulrike Lunacek reportedly dodged “stones” that were thrown at her as she addressed the rally. The attackers also threw smoke bombs and eggs at the approximately 1,000 celebrants.
Police arrested eight people. Local reports said some were connected to the neo-Nazi group Slovenska Pospolitost. Pride organizers and some media faulted the police for failure to secure the parade events and route. Lukas Fila, deputy editor of the daily newspaper Sme, said, “Slovakia has experienced a day of shame.” Lunacek, co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, commented, “It has been an important victory that Bratislava Pride did take place – even though we did not march through the city center, but with hundreds of rainbow flags across the Danube bridge to the other shore.”
“Radicals take up public space only when allowed,” Lunacek said. “The government’s duty is to work against nationalistic, racist and homophobic hate speech and violence.” GLBT people also gathered for a Pride festival in Bucharest, Romania, on May 22. It was the city’s sixth Pride celebration. Member of the European Parliament Michael Cashman addressed the 350 celebrants. Anti-gay protesters were “kept at bay by a strong police presence,” the GLBT Intergroup reported.