Rainbow Pride Elicits Differing Reactions, Zitnanska Decries Any Hate Speech

Public Ombudswoman Maria Patakyova delivering a speech at Rainbow Pride 2017, photo by TASR

Bratislava, August 19 (TASR) – People are free to hold various opinions on issues – even on those concerning LGBTI community, but instances of hate speech that Slovakia bore witness even today towards the Rainbow Pride 2017 have no place in tolerant society, Justice Minister Lucia Zitnanska (Most-Hid) said on Saturday.

Zitnanska also claimed that minorities shouldn’t be taken advantage of for political purposes.

The Justice Minister pointed out that the Slovak Constitution protects the rights and dignity of every person. “Embracing this principle and taking it for granted as part of life represents one of the key challenges in my opinion, the one without which we as society cannot progress any further,” Zitnanska wrote in her Facebook status update.

The participation of Public Ombudswoman Maria Patakyova in Rainbow Pride 2017 and her decision to hang out the rainbow flag from her office building elicited ill-will and indignation within the ranks of the Slovak National Party (SNS), members of which view Patakyova’s actions as the abuse of her powers.

SNS leader and parliamentary chair Andrej Danko is deeply disappointed in Patakyova. “Having the Public Ombudswoman show herselff off at the Pride, during the march of the LGBTI community, with a tacit approval from the Government’s Office and publicly-stated outright support from the Most-Hid for such Ombudswoman’s behavior (which clashes with the deal anchored within the coalition agreement) is not only outrageous but has also worked to start a new, fundamental ideological conflict inside the coalition,” Danko wrote on Facebook. This leads the SNS chair to believe that coalition partners Smer-SD and Most-Hid don’t seek to stabilise the current coalition.

According to Martin Poliacik of liberal Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), the Rainbow Pride demonstrates that not only are rights of minorities important, but also that society cares about them. “It shows that even in Slovakia there are people who know that “otherness” is more than okay and, in reality, something all of us are benefitting from. It shows that we want to live here with mutual cooperation and respect for each other,” Poliacik wrote on his Facebook page.

His view was echoed by Lucia Nicholsonova of SaS, under whose auspices as the parliamentary vice-chair the Rainbow Pride was held. “I hope that one day LGBTI will no longer be an issue, but a regular part of our lives,” she said.

On the other hand, conservative Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) chair Alojz Hlina calls for exercising caution. “LGBTI theme must be handled thoughtfully because it bears the potential to stir up hatred. The Rainbow Pride stands outside of such thoughtful approach,” said the leader of Christian Democrats. He added that if a man doesn’t wish to kiss a woman or a woman kiss a man, “they are entrusted with a task different than breeding children”. “The Christian Democrats cannot abandon their protection of natural laws, the protection of marriage as a unique bond between man and woman, and they won’t do so.”