The LGBT flag has been raised over Prague City Hall. Credit: Freepik.

Rainbow Flag Raised Over Prague City Hall To Open Prague Pride Festival

The 12th Prague Pride, an annual week-long festival of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT+), started today with the raising of a rainbow flag over the Prague City Hall today. According to festival director Tom Bily and city officials, the festival will run until 14 August and includes 150 events, culminating with a carnival parade in the centre of Prague on Saturday.

“The motto of this year’s festival is Heart Matters,” said Bily. “This reflects the human rights aspect of the festival. A heart is not only a part of our logo, but there are also eight billion hearts beating worldwide. We want to say that all hearts matter. It is a symbol of life, togetherness, mutual love and humanness. The motto is reflected by almost all of the festival’s 150 events.”

Apart from the parade, the festival offers concerts, workshops, debates and theatre performances. Most festival events will be accessible for free, said Bily.

The festival wants to highlight the history of LGBT+ people’s struggle for equal rights and also focus on raising people’s awareness against homophobia and transphobia. It will concentrate on the situation in Central and East Europe.

The carnival parade will start in the lower part of Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Saturday afternoon, crossing the city centre and heading for the Letna Plain. The organisers expect around 20,000 people to take part.

The City Hall has supported the festival in recent years, including financially. As before, it has now raised a rainbow flag, and the lookout tower on Petrin Hill will have a rainbow illumination tonight and on Saturday evening.

According to the organisers’ previous data, the number of visitors at Pride rose annually until 2018, reaching a peak of 92,000. In 2019, there were 75,000 visitors, and the Prague Pride Parade was joined by 30,000. In the past two years, the parade did not take place due to the coronavirus epidemic. In 2020, the festival was held online only. Last year, a part of the programme was held outdoors, with some 25,000 participants.

The Prague Pride festival and parade took place in August 2011 for the first time, meeting with protests from conservatives, who called the event “obscene” and claimed that the festival was forcing “homosexualism” on people. This term was also used by then-Czech president Vaclav Klaus, who said the “ideology of homosexualism” must be fought against. Protests against the festival gradually subsided in the following years.