16. Juli 2021

Letter to Czech President on comments regarding trans persons as ‚disgusting‘

LGBTIQ*Offene Briefe


Miloš Zeman
President of the Czech Republic

Brussels, 16 July 2021

Subject: Call on the President of the Czech Republic to apologise for his statements on
transgender people

Dear Miloš Zeman, President of the Czech Republic

In your recent interview for CNN Prima News, you described transgender people as ‘disgusting’ and expressed
the opinion that they are committing a crime of self-harm by undergoing gender affirming surgery. We would like
to highlight how harmful those words are to trans individuals, as well as society as a whole, given that they serve
only to create further divisions and target those who are already especially vulnerable. In addition, these comments
contribute to deteriorating the mental health of this community due to the stigma and discrimination they perpetuate.
To illustrate the latter, we must recognize why thinking of, or actually attempting to commit, suicide is
disproportionately higher among trans youth. According to the Fundamental Rights Agency second ‘LGBTI
Survey’,1 more than 20% of respondents in the Czech Republic always or often avoid certain places or locations
for fear of being assaulted, threatened or harassed due to being LGBTI. The percentage among trans persons
raises to 27%. These numbers show how understanding and acceptance are deeply needed, rather than hostile
and degrading comments. High-level figures should seek to promote acceptance based on understanding.
We believe that, and you have stated it yourself, the President of a country should unite people and bridge divides.
Through your statement, however, you have, willingly or not, singled out one already very vulnerable community,
worryingly giving power to those who stigmatise them and exploit their vulnerability. This is especially serious in
the Czech Republic, which unfortunately is still is among the only six countries in the EU that legally require
sterilization for trans individuals who seek legal gender recognition. This extremely harmful practice leads to further
stigmatization and psychological harm.

This is therefore the perfect moment to highlight why there is a need for an EU “LGBTIQ Equality Strategy”,2 such
as the one put forward by the Commission. In it, the Commission commits to fostering exchanges of best practices
between Member States to put in place accessible legal gender recognition legislation and procedures based on
the principle of self-determination and without age restrictions. We take the opportunity to call on you to seize this
opportunity, to engage with the relevant governmental actors and encourage them to participate actively, and to
understand how other countries have put in place such mechanisms that changed perceptions and opinions on
trans persons.

We hope your remarks were merely based on a misunderstanding of the transgender community and that
through understanding and compassion, you will reconsider your position. It is for the reasons above that we would like to ask you to apologise publicly for your demeaning remarks and to further support the end of forced sterilization and of access to legal gender recognition based on self-determination in the Czech Republic.

We look forward to your reply.
Yours sincerely,

Marc ANGEL, Co-Chair, LGBTI Intergroup (S&D)
Terry REINTKE, Co-Chair, LGBTI Intergroup (Greens-EFA, Vice-President)
Fabio Massimo CASTALDO, Vice-President, LGBTI Intergroup (EP Vice-President, Non-attached)
Liesje SCHREINEMACHER, Vice-President, LGBTI Intergroup (Renew Europe)
Malin BJÖRK, Vice-President, LGBTI Intergroup (The Left)
Maria WALSH, Vice-President, LGBTI Intergroup (EPP)
Marcel KOLAJA, EP Vice-President
Frédérique RIES, Vice-President, Renew Europe
Alice KUHNKE, Vice-President, Greens/European Free Alliance
Gwendoline DELBOS-CORFIELD, Vice-President, Greens/European Free Alliance
Andreas SCHIEDER (S&D)
Anja HAZEKAMP (The Left)
Antoni COMÍN I OLIVERES (Non-attached)
Brando BENIFEI (S&D)
Dietmar KÖSTER (S&D)
Giuliano PISAPIA (S&D)
Hilde VAUTMANS (Renew Europe)
Karen MELCHIOR (Renew Europe)
Karin KARLSBRO (Renew Europe)
Manuel BOMPARD (The Left)
Mario FURORE (Non-attached)
Martin HOJSÍK (Renew Europe)
Monika VANA (Greens-EFA)
Niklas NIENASS (Greens-EFA)
Olivier CHASTEL (Renew Europe)
Radka MAXOVÁ (S&D)
Rasmus ANDRESEN (Greens-EFA)
Rosa D’AMATO (Greens-EFA)
Sándor RÓNAI (S&D)
Sandro GOZI (Renew Europe)
Sara MATTHIEU (Greens-EFA)
Sophie IN’T VELD (Renew Europe)