Anger as Czech Republic president describes transgender people as ‘disgusting’

‘I can understand gays, lesbians, and so on,’ Zeman said. ’But do you know what I don’t understand at all? Transgender people’

<p>Milos Zeman’s tirade confirmed his long-suspected hostile stance towards minority groups</p>

Milos Zeman’s tirade confirmed his long-suspected hostile stance towards minority groups

The Czech Republic’s head of state Milos Zeman has sparked anger by describing transgender people as “disgusting” in a television interview.

During the interview, on CNN Prima news, the president also said that if he were younger, he would organise a huge demonstration of heterosexuals in Prague.

“I can understand gays, lesbians, and so on,” Zeman said. “But do you know what I don’t understand at all? Transgender people.”

“If someone undergoes a sex change operation, he commits the crime of self-harm. Every operation is a risk. And these transgender people are really disgusting to me,” he added.

Zeman’s comments came in response to questions about his stance on Hungary’s controversial new law to restrict the “promotion” of LGBT-positive content in education and in the public sphere.

The Czech Republic has been conspicuous by its absence from EU statements condemning the Hungarian move. Yet Zeman has now, in no uncertain terms, clarified his own position.

“[Hungarian prime minister] Viktor Orban says he is not against homosexuals – he is against the manipulation not only of parents, but also of children in sex education,” he said.

“I see no reason to disagree with him, because I am completely annoyed by the suffragettes, the Me Too movement, and Prague Pride.”

The president’s tirade confirmed his long-suspected hostile stance towards such minority groups. Zeman, who was also previously prime minister of the country, suggested that LGBT+ people try to “rise above others” by asserting their sexual identity, and sardonically claimed heterosexuals should organise their own march, in order to highlight the “pointlessness” of demonstrations concerning the “intimate affair” of sexual orientation.

Zeman’s social conservatism is well-known, but the interview has nonetheless prompted shock among Czech LGBT+ organisations.

“We are extremely saddened to hear such comments coming from the president,” Daniel Zikmund, from the Prague Pride Association, told The Independent. “His statements will be very damaging to the mental health of LGBT+ people.”

It is feared the president’s endorsement of anti-LGBT sentiments will grant greater legitimacy to such attitudes in the Czech Republic.

“Although the majority of the Czech population supports equal rights for LGBT+ people, transgender people remain the group most discriminated against. And only a few weeks ago, a gay couple were openly attacked in Prague. This is worrying to see,” said Zikmund, confirming the precarious situation still faced by LGBT+ people in the country.

LGBT+ rights groups have long criticised the Czech Republic’s failure to rectify laws which discriminate against LGBT+ people. The country’s requirement that transgender people undergo sterilisation surgery in order to legally change gender has been described as an illegal violation of the “right to protection of health”.

As a result of such laws, advocacy group ILGA-Europe recently cited concerns that the Czech Republic could follow in the footsteps of illiberal neighbours Poland and Hungary in further restricting LGBT+ rights.

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