The publisher of Plus 7 dní, one of Slovakia’s most-read weeklies, has refused to release a part of an interview with Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini that touched on his sexual orientation.
Now, the magazine’s editor-in-chief accused Smer-SD of censorship and quit her job.
Katarína Šelestiaková, the former editor-in-chief, said that Pellegrini, who “is fighting against LGBT,” should “handle questions about his orientation.”
According to the Slovak daily Deník N, which was the first to inform about the case, the publisher decided at Pellegrini’s request not to print the final question of the interview with Pellegrini, which touched on his sexual orientation.
The interview with Pellegrini was published with the subject of his sexual orientation missing. In the unprinted part of the interview, Pellegrini said that he is not gay.
Inappropriate question to ask Pellegrini?
The question was about the satirical website Zomri.sk, which often suggests that Pellegrini is merely a puppet of Smer-SD chairman Robert Fico and also regularly taunts the prime minister’s sexual orientation.
Although in the interview, Pellegrini answered the question, shortly afterward, he called the editorial office where he allegedly pressured the publishing house News and Media Holding (NMH) to not publish the interview.
“In discussion with the Plus 7 Dní editorial office, the publisher has never questioned the actual publishing of the interview but asked the editor-in-chief to erase the part of the interview about the sexual orientation,” stated Martina Šebová, the manager of the NMH print portfolio.
Pellegrini told Deník N that he suggested deleting the question about Zomri.sk, so the website would not get free promotion.
According to Šebová, all interviews with top politicians are subject to authorization. Furthermore, the publisher said it understood why Pellegrini requested to delete the question.
“The sexual orientation of any political leader has nothing to do with his ability to do his job, nor with the public interest, and therefore does not belong to such an interview,” Šebová said.
However, this affair is not the only issue that stirs the political situation in Slovakia at the moment.
On Wednesday night, six Slovak opposition MPs decided to spend the night in the parliament’s meeting hall as they declared the parliamentary meeting illegal. According to them, parliament should not be deciding on social measures worth more than €800 million so shortly before the parliamentary elections.
Smer-SD chairman Robert Fico strongly criticized the MPs.
“This meeting is absolutely legitimate. It is a great disappointment to see the antics of the opposition MPs. … They’re utter fools,” said Fico.
However, Fico faces much more serious problems as four opposition parties have united against his party. Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), the coalition of Progressive Slovakia and Together – Civic Democracy (PS/Spolu), the party For the People, and Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party have a joint goal in the upcoming February parliamentary elections: to defeat Robert Fico’s Smer-SD party and form a government.
These opposition parties expect that parliamentary elections will bring a change in Slovakia. They have signed a so-called non-aggression pact, and although they do not agree on many things, they are united in trying to bring down Smer-SD.