2021-10-12 10:34:12 UTC
thinks transgender people are "disgusting" in a TV interview.
"If you undergo a sex-change operation you are basically committing
a crime of self-harm," he said at the weekend.
Mr Zeman was responding to a question about a controversial law in
Hungary banning the portrayal or promotion of homosexuality among
He said he backed the legislation, which has been condemned by EU
Mr Zeman is a divisive figure with a history of making controversial
remarks. He has a tendency of expressing his views - which are often
at variance with government policy - using strong language.
The president has irked many people - both within the country and
among the Czech Republic's western allies - by defending Russia's
stance on Ukraine and by voicing opposition to the western sanctions
Speaking during his weekly televised interview, Mr Zeman said he
agreed with Hungarian leader Viktor Orban's view that the law was
necessary to prevent children and parents being manipulated by sex
"I can understand gays, lesbians and so on," the 76-year-old said.
"Do you know who I don't understand at all? The transgender ones...
every surgery is a risk and these transgender people to me are
He also said that protest marches such as the forthcoming Prague
Pride were minorities trying to put themselves on a superior footing
to others. He said if he were younger, he would organise a counter-
demonstration of heterosexuals.
A spokesperson for Prague Pride, which will be held in the Czech
Republic from 2 August, has accused Mr Zeman of adding to the stress
of transgender people.
"We were really sad to hear such a statement, especially because it
has a damaging effect to mental health of the LGBT+ in [the] Czech
Republic" Daniel Zikmund said.
The Czech Republic is one of the most sexually liberal countries in
the former communist bloc, although several of its politicians have
resorted to increasingly intolerant rhetoric of late.
Presidential power in the country is limited, but the president has
the right to veto any bill already passed by parliament, apart from
During an EU summit in Brussels last week, Dutch Prime Minister Mark
Rutte reportedly asked Mr Orban why Hungary was still in the EU if
it did not share its values of tolerance and non-discrimination. Mr
Rutte said that Hungary "has no business being in the European Union
Mr Orban has insisted that Hungary's law has nothing to do with gay