From Ostrava with Love

Human rights in the EU are under attack. But against the backdrop of this democratic decay, solidarity continues to travel across borders. Yesterday, I shared Raymond’s message of hope, which expressed disappointment with recent developments in eastern Europe, while acknowledging global progress. Today I would like to share Dominik’s letter, another response to my earlier post on Europe Day 2020:

I am Dominik and I live in the Czech Republic. When the first Polish municipality proclaimed itself as an LGBT-free zone, it was shocking news to me. I could not believe that this was happening only a few kilometres from my home city. However, I was sure that other villages and towns would refuse this repugnant strategy, aimed at attracting attention and gaining political points. A huge disillusion came when other municipalities supported this vision of social exclusion. This flurry of hatred and discrimination suddenly invaded a third of the Polish territory and took away from thousands of young people the liberty to express their sexuality freely. I keep asking myself: Do we not teach children to be tolerant and open-minded? Isn’t genuine love the value we praise most in our society? Is it really so difficult to understand and accept that others might have different feelings? For some, seemingly, it is, and the LGBT-free movement unfortunately proves that. However, despite this massive lack of sensibility and understanding in some individuals, there are hundreds of brave young people in Poland who do not give up and express their disagreement by organizing protests, speaking out loud about the problem or signing petitions. I much admire these people, who risk verbal aggression, physical attacks or threats on a daily basis. They do not fight only for themselves, but also for their friends and other oppressed groups. If you are one of these heroes, I would love to let you know that you are not alone. The queer community from all over the world is watching the situation in your country and will support you in your fight against bigotry. You are creating a new positive movement, helping your peers who live in an environment where hiding is the only way to survive. Thank you for your effort and solidarity!

Dominik, your words of encouragement are much needed. Yesterday, on May 19, the Hungarian parliament passed the much dreaded law ending legal recognition of trans people. And although this law seems to violate international human rights norms, case law of the European Court of Human Rights and previous rulings of the Hungarian Constitutional Court, this will bring little comfort to those Hungarians who are now being deprived of their fundamental rights by the biggest bully they have ever met: their own government. 

Another development this week comes from Slovakia, where members of Smer-SD, Slovakia’s ‘social democrats’, joined forces with extremists to create a Platform for Slovakian Values, attacking virtually everyone deviating from their ideal-type of white traditional families. This move confirms fears that, generally speaking, Smer-SD provides a platform for divisive and hateful politics. Just as a reminder: in Europe, this party places itself in the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. Being Dutch myself, I believe that such developments deserve a higher place on the political agenda in the Netherlands and in Dutch media. We need to be aware of the bullies in our political system and recognise the pain they cause around us. That way we can provide counterweight, each in our own way. 

I really hope more people will share a personal story or perspective, and as I promised before, I will do my best to forward your messages to activists and politicians in the aforementioned regions, so that the whispers may trigger more whispers!

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