Czech MP comes out as gay after Slovakia LGBTQ+ bar shooting: ‘Society is being radicalised’

Jiří Navrátil

A Czech Republic MP has come out as gay in the wake of an apparent anti-LGBTQ+ shooting in neighbouring Slovakia.

Jiří Navrátil discussed his sexuality and his experiences as a gay man in an interview for Seznam, the Republic’s most used search engine.

A member of the Christian and Democratic Union in the Chamber of Deputies, he said he was prompted to come out after reports of a gun attack in Slovakia on 12 October,  where two gay men were fatally shot.

The killings led to several protests in the Czech Republic, with thousands of people gathering on Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Wednesday (26 October) to protest against homophobia and calling on the government to take more action against hate.

Protesters also placed blame on governments in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia for not moving fast enough on protecting LGBTQ+ people.

Navrátil said that while he believes the Czech Republic is ahead of Slovakia when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, “even our society is becoming very radicalised in certain cases”.

The MP, who represents the Moravia-Silesia constituency in the north-east of the country, explained that he has never hidden his identity in politics, and that he lives openly with his partner in Mořkov.

“When someone asked, I answered, but I always added that it was my private life,” he said.

He is a devout Catholic, but finds it “paradoxical” when religious and “traditional” values are used as an excuse to discriminate.

The attack on 12 October in Bratislava, Slovakia saw two men fatally shot and a woman wounded in front of Tepláreň, a popular LGBTQ+ bar in Slovakia’s capital city.

Police identified those killed as Matus H, a 23-year-old university student, and Juraj V, 26.

On 17 October, the investigator reportedly reclassified the incident as terrorism, according to the Slovak Spectator.

The newspaper reported, however, that even if the investigation confirms the reclassification the case will not go to court, as the suspect took his own life on the night of the attack.

Slovakian prime minister Eduard Heger was among those to condemn the attack, saying it is “unacceptable” that anyone should fear for their life “because of the way they live”.

Czeslaw Walek, one of the organisers of the Prague protest, said a petition calling on the Czech government to approve same-sex marriage in the country and improve protections against discrimination for LGBTQ+ people, had more than 20,000 signatures.

Opinion polling has shown as many as 67 per cent of the Czech population supports the legalisation of same-sex marriage.