The Rainbow Pride gay rights march went ahead on Saturday in Bratislava with the minimum of incidents, thanks chiefly to a 500-strong police presence, which earned the praise and thanks of the event organisers.
Although not as crowded as last year’s event, the first of its kind in Slovakia, this year there were an estimated 1,500 people by the time the march took place late afternoon. The event was attended also by some prominent figures, including head of SaS Richard Sulik, Slovak MEP Monika Flasikova-Benova, and Bratislava mayor Milan Ftacnik.
Ftacnik praised the police for their excellent work, saying Bratislava can regard itself as an open city, also for LGBT. Nevertheless, according to some reports the police still had to take in around 40 counter demonstrators for questioning, mostly for trying to disrupt the march across Novy Most bridge.
Richard Sulik, parliamentary chairman and head of SaS, which is trying to fight for gay rights, said it was important to support events like this, while admitting that under its current constellation the coalition was unlikely to endorse same sex marriages.
Speakers at the event included MEPs Ulrike Lunacek from Austria and Marije Cornelissen from Holland. Lunacek noted that gays had the advantage over the demonstrators because “they want us to be like them, while we just want everyone to be themselves”. Both the MEPs attended last year’s event as well.
Head of the nationalist party SNS, Jan Slota, was unreserved in his rhetoric, saying the event is a provocation and remarking that these “sick people” should suffer their illness in silence the same as everyone else has to. He said nobody could help their illness, while making a comparison with cancer patients not taking to the streets about their illness.
In the wake of the march, SaS MP Stanislav Fort decided to come out and confess his homosexuality, the first Slovak MP to do so in public. He also pointed out that even though the Christian democrats of KDH take a strong stance to homosexuality in public, in private they are much more tolerant and understanding.
Organiser of the event, Romana Schlesinger, thanked everyone for their attendance and the police for their good work, while pointing out how Slovakia is improving in the acceptance of gays, even though it was the last country in the European Union to hold such a march.