“A vulgar gesture” is how Jaroslav Paška, deputy chair of the Slovak National Party (SNS), called the decision of Ombudswoman Mária Patakyová to attend the August 19 Rainbow Pride in Bratislava. In his opinion, her behaviour even initiated a new ideological conflict in the coalition.
“A lady whom we supported in the run for the post of ombudswoman is obviously planning to discredit not only our coalition government, but also the years-long civilisational, cultural and social values of our society,” Paška said about Patakyová, a nominee of its coalition partner Most-Híd, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
He even claimed they would probably not support any other Most-Híd candidate for a public post.
It is not the first time the nationalists have criticised support for the rights of the LGBTI community. When Slovak Ambassador to Hungary Rastislav Káčer raised the rainbow flag at the embassy building last year, his gesture was opposed not only by SNS, but also the senior coalition party Smer. SNS chair Andrej Danko even asked Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák to recall Káčer from his post.
The Slovak Spectator spoke to Patakyová, who expressed the need to support the human rights of all people, including those living in non-heterosexual partnerships.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Did you expect such a negative reaction to your support for Rainbow Pride in Bratislava from SNS?
Mária Patakyová (MP): No.
TSS: The party claims that according to the coalition agreement, the coalition partners should not openly discussion controversial topics. Is this the case? Is the topic of protecting the fundamental rights of the LGBTI community really such a controversial issue?
MP: I deal exclusively with the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, so I can’t and won’t comment on political statements and coalition relations. My duty is to point out the threats and violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms caused by ignoring the rights of same-sex couples in the context of the consensus of the Council of Europe’s member states on recognising and protecting the rights of people living in life partnerships.
TSS: SNS even sent you a letter in which it criticised your decision to raise the rainbow flag at your office, claiming that you are abusing your powers. Are such statements legitimate?
MP: By raising the flag at the window I respected the state symbols situated at the front facade of the building. At the same time, I pointed out the rights violation of this community when it comes to recognising their life partnerships.
TSS: How do you perceive current public opinion about the LGBTI community?
MP: I consider the distance and misunderstanding of the basis of relationships between non-heterosexual couples the main problem. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg explained its rulings, via which it included these relationships under the protection of the family life and privacy, with the existence of long-term partnerships based on devotion and trust.
TSS: How do you plan to continue supporting the rights of the LGBTI community in Slovakia?
MP: Similarly to other Slovakia’s citizens. If I receive a motion I’m entitled to deal with, I will look into the case and use all legal possibilities to protect their rights. In the near future I will focus on the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of older people in senior homes, for example. I will also continue in auditing the measures public administration bodies did not approve in the past or measures that are insufficient.