While Czechs are conservative on a number of issues such as migration, when it comes to gay marriage, they tend to take a liberal view. Still, there are a range of conservative parties that continue to promote the idea that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, which tends to be the mainstream view in countries like Hungary and Poland.
“No one can want me to believe that people of the same gender should form marriages and a family equal to the natural one,” the chairman of Civic Democrats (ODS) wrote in his book entitled “Petr Fiala from A to Z”. His statement prompted a backlash, according to Czech news portal Idnes.
Although marriage is not the most important topic of the campaign in the upcoming elections in the Czech Republic, disputes may arise within the Together coalition (ODS, Christian Democrats and TOP 09), notes political scientist Jan Kubáček.
“I am convinced that only the union of a man and a woman is marriage. I don’t stop anyone from living with who they want and how they want. But no one can want me to believe that people of the same gender should form marriages and a family equal to the natural one. It contradicts my faith, my reason, my knowledge. So please respect that,” Fiala wrote in the chapter called “Family”.
“A ‘traditional’ family must be protected by society in order to survive. We should start before it’s too late. Don’t touch the traditional family,” he added.
His statement provoked negative reactions among the commentators and minority rights activists.
“I do not touch your idea of family, Mr. Fiala. I do not limit you in any way. You tell us that we cannot and must not have full families. Where is the rational approach? Where is the protection of personal freedom? Where is the ‘we belong to the West’?” wrote Adéla Horáková, a lawyer of the We Are Fair initiative, which promotes gay marriage.
Fiala himself mentions in the chapter entitled “Conservatism” that he leans towards British conservatism. In the UK, however, the Conservatives, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, ended up approving gay marriage.
Many of his own voters may not agree with his stance. According to a 2019 survey by the Median agency, 60 percent of ODS voters were in favor of marriage for all. Overall, according to the latest survey by the agency, 67 percent of Czechs support marriage for all.
Gay marriage divides the political scene
According to political scientist Jan Kubáček, Fiala’s statement corresponds to the fact that he is leading a more conservative part of the Together coalition. As Kubáček adds, marriage for everyone is not currently the most crucial part of the election campaign as much as economics, social issues, and Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
At the same time, according to him, it is probable that disputes will arise in the Together coalition when this topic is discussed. He noted that while Christian Democrats identify with Fiala’s view, TOP 09 is of a different opinion.
Overall, Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL), Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), Civic Democrats (ODS), and part of ANO are against LGBT marriage.
When discussing the topic, Marian Jurečka, the head of KDU-ČSL, said that the meaning of marriage should not be diluted by simply saying that it is for everyone. The former chairman of KDU-ČSL, deputy Marek Výborný, even tried to initiate a change in the wording of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms to clearly define marriage as a “union of a man and a woman.”
On the contrary, the chairwoman of TOP 09, Markéta Pekarová Adamová, said during the debate in the Chamber of Deputies that even though she is a Catholic, she will support marriage for everyone.
Freedom and Direct Democracy chairman Tomio Okamura then stated that he would “never want to be adopted by a same-sex couple.”
“If I were to simplify it, it turns out that MPs would prefer to support a similar legal situation to marriage, but they would like it to be called differently. They don’t mind the legal issue so much, but they have a problem with symbolism,” said Kubáček.
Currently, same-sex couples can only enter into a registered partnership in the Czech Republic. However, this status does not give them the same rights as spouses have. For example, registered partners are not entitled to a widow’s pension and, by entering into a partnership, they cannot have joint property, nor can they adopt a child together.
Title image: Civic Democrats chairman Petr Fiala attending an agricultural event in České Budějovice (Petr Fiala / Twitter)