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William Nattrass

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At the Prague Pride parade in 2019

A Czech Exception? LGBTI Push For Progress In Central Europe

Attitudes are shifting in countries with both a communist past and strong Christian roots.

PRAGUE — It's no secret that Central Europe isn't the world's best place for LGBTI people. The odious anti-gay rhetoric of Polish President Andrzej Duda recently made international headlines, along with the country's introduction of "LGBT-free zones." In Hungary, Viktor Orbán's government used its power of decree during the coronavirus pandemic to make it impossible for people to change their legal gender, passing a bill replacing "gender" in the civil registry with "sex at birth." Meanwhile, Slovakia's Constitution explicitly limits marriage to opposite-sex couples, while a Eurobarometer survey five years ago found that only 24% of Slovaks support same-sex marriage.

Still, the region is not a monolith and times continue to evolve, which makes the situation for LGBTI in the Czech Republic worth particular attention.

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Wearing face masks in Prague

The Meaning Of A Face Mask, From Britain To Czech Republic

PRAGUESuch a little thing, such a little thing, but the difference it made was grave. As so often happens, a line from Morrissey sums it up best.

Back in my native Britain, that "little thing" of having to wear a face mask in shops has been met by no shortage of fear and loathing. Here in the Czech Republic, where I've lived for nearly a year, face mask requirements were adopted back on March 19 with almost no public debate and little dissent. Since then, with the country largely spared of the worst effects of COVID-19, face masks are no longer compulsory and have largely vanished from our lives, receding into a past made more distant by the time warping effects of lockdown.

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