MEPs address Czech President regarding statements on trans persons and call for an apology

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 apologize 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)

Cyrus ENGERER (S&D)

Dietmar KÖSTER (S&D)

Erik MARQUARDT (Greens-EFA)

Giuliano PISAPIA (S&D) 

Hilde VAUTMANS (Renew Europe)

Karen MELCHIOR (Renew Europe)

Karin KARLSBRO (Renew Europe)

Kim VAN SPARRENTAK (Greens-EFA)

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)

Sirpa PIETIKÄINEN (EPP)

Sophie IN’T VELD (Renew Europe)


[1] Fundamental Rights Agency (14 May 2020), “A long way to go for LGBTI equality”, LGBTI Survey Data Explorer, available at https://fra.europa.eu/en/data-and-maps/2020/lgbti-survey-data-explorer.

[2] European Commission (2020), Union of Equality: LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025”, published on 12 November 2020, accessible at https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/lgbtiq_strategy_2020-2025_en.pdf.

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