Prague

Overview

With its history of communism, one could suspect that Prague and the Czech Republic would be a conservative environment; the real situation is quite to the contrary. Prague is one of the most accepting places in Eastern Europe with an ever- growing LGBT community, especially strong in the Vinohrady district. Be ready to dive in and get to know the LGBT community from within.

Legislation

  • A bill for same-sex marriage has nearly been passed twice in the Czech Republic, most recently in 2005. In July 2006 the country passed a bill allowing civil unions for same-sex partners, offering nearly all the rights of a married couple.
  • Anti-discrimination laws exist that protect and secure the safety of those discriminated against for their sexual orientation.
  • Legislation for transgender individuals is numerous, including laws permitting gender reassignment surgery, proper recognition of citizenship, and a new birth certificate with this reassignment.

Cultural Differences

  • Many LGBT clubs and bars are underground…literally! Be ready to trek down stairs into more basement areas at some locales. This is the same for many hetero-normative places too.
  • Unlike America, people in most Eastern European cultures seem reserved in public and become much more open in private. This means to see the full side of Czech people and the LGBT community, be ready to enter those private spaces, like clubs, cafes, and other venues.
  • The Czech Republic is documented as the most atheist nation in the world (58% of the population!). Organized religion plays a much smaller role in the overall attitudes of citizens towards issues such as those of the LGBT community.

Getting Involved

Downtown Café http://www.downtowncafe.cz

  • Ujezd 19
  • Located in the heart of Prague, this café is a definite first stop in the city. Besides offering delicious food and drinks, this café has a diverse selection of magazines and booklets designed for the LGBT community.

Two websites to check out are http://www.gay.cz and http://www.lesba.cz. These websites provide information on the activities of the gay and lesbian communities of Prague, as well as information on LGBT clubs, bars, and restaurants.

While there is no official LGBT newspaper or publication in Prague, the English newspaper, The Prague Post (http://www.praguepost.com) is highly supportive of LGBT rights and writes many articles about the community and its developments.

Check out this Prague Post article on the status and acceptance of same-sex couples in the Czech Republic: (http://www.praguepost.com/articles/2006/07/12/nearly-weds.php_)

Student Perspective

Danny – At my internships and jobs, where I actually met with real Czech citizens, I was a little bit more careful when discussing my lifestyle. Being gay is just one thing that you don’t share with people. Mostly we would discuss the current state of politics, the economy, European and American affairs. It was one of those subjects that was avoided because none of us would really bring up (but I also never felt a need to or had to defend myself either). Like any job, it’s really how you want to present yourself to your co-workers and supervisors. Go out, experience the city, dine, drink, meet people and have fun. Don’t go thinking you’re going to find rainbow flags on storefronts everywhere (though there were a few at some bars!), but don’t think you’re going to 1989 Communist Czechoslovakia either.

On the LGBT Underground

Jeremy – My first gay bar experience was at Friends, a cute place in Old Town. When my friend and I first arrived there, we did not know what to expect; all we saw was a sign with the bar’s name and a large staircase going down. Two flights later, we were surrounded by many friendly LGBT people and even made friends with one gay male couple – a native Czech and his boyfriend who was from London. They told us a great deal about how things were changing in Prague through the younger generation and the enthusiasm people had for the EU. We then proceeded to enjoy the music and dance the night away! It was a wonderful experience that gave me the confidence to go out and explore other venues and LGBT-friendly districts. Lesson of the night: you never know what to expect when you go down into the LGBT nightlife of Prague!

Hotspots

Club Termix – http://www.club-termix.cz/index.php?lang=eng

  • Třebízského 4a
  • A hip club with a unique design based on the former auto repair shop on which it was built. Look for different car parts and pieces sticking out of the walls all along the dance floor!

Friends – http://www.friends-prague.cz/

  • Bartolomějská 11
  • A “friendly” bar in the Old Town district that offers cozy settings of velvet couches and relatively cheap prices. Tends to attract numerous tourists and expatriates amongst some Czech locals.

Radost FX – http://www.radostfx.cz/

  • Belehradská 120
  • Mainly a heterosexual venue with numerous LGBT nights attracting a wide variety of people to its doors. Also, a great spot for delicious vegetarian cuisine.

Travel

Cesky Krumlov – A cozy town in the southern regions of the Czech Republic. Very welcoming to LGBT persons and even has a few hostels that cater to the community.

Brno – The second largest city in the Czech Republic and home to budding LGBT community. Look for the LGBT Film Festival that is usually held in November. (http://www.passportmagazine.com/30/Brno.php)

Karlovy Vary – This historic city has become a popular tourist destination for its numerous spas and hot springs. Expect to find all different types of people looking for some rest and relaxation.

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