Czech vote on discrimination bill delayed until after elections

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A key parliamentary vote that would bring the Czech Republic into line with other EU nations has been delayed.

It is the only country in the European Union with no anti-discrimination law, and wide-ranging legislation that includes sexual orientation is before the Chamber of Deputies.

It has decided to wait until after elections to the Senate next month before it votes. A previous vote in June was delayed because of fears it would not pass.

One third of the Senate is up for election.

If the bill fails to pass it is likely that the Czech government will not support the proposed anti discrimination EU directive, which also includes sexual orientation.

The Czech Republic was the first post-communist government to recognise homosexual partnerships. It joined the EU in 2004.

Their registered partnership legislation covers inheritance, maintenance and hospital rights for same-sex partners, but not adoption.

It was initially vetoed by then-president Vaclav Klaus in 2006.

He claimed it increased the state’s power to interfere with individual lives.

In March 2006 his veto was overturned in the Czech lower house.

The European Commission decided in June introduce a new directive on discrimination on the grounds of disability, age, religion and sexual orientation.

EU directives are legislation that requires member states to, for example, deal with discrimination, but leaves it up to the states to decide on the best course of action to take.

All forms of discrimination at work are already covered by directives.

The directive will cover direct and indirect discrimination as well as harassment and victimisation.

However, member states will remain free to “maintain measures ensuring the secular nature of the State or concerning the status and activities of religious organisations.”