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Treatment of Minorities

Treatment of Minorities 89% of Czech citizens have a negative attitude towards the Roma people.

Various public opinion polls indicate the spread of xenophobia in the Czech society. According to a survey by Center for Public Opinion Research, 89% of respondents have a negative attitude towards the Roma (in 2011 - 83%, in 2012 - 78% ), and 6% said it is absolutely unacceptable to coexist with them. Analysis of the data showed that the vast majority of the population is of the opinion that the Roma were guilty of the increasing rate of crime and the abuse of social benefits, with the predisposition that they cannot become full members of society Largely Roma-phobia is a consequence of the deteriorating economic situation in the country and the attempts of the population to find simple answers to questions about the perpetrators of the decline in living standards. Many easily perceived xenophobic clichés about allegedly high level of criminality among Roma. More than 60% of Czechs believe that the government does not address the problems associated with the Roma.

According to the Public Opinion Centre survey conducted in April 2014, 84% of respondents were against their Roma neighbours.On May 20th it was reported that according to a survey of the Sociological Institute of the Academy of Sciences two-thirds of Czech citizens have expressed concerns about Islam and Muslims. Only 10% of respondents did not express concerns about Islam. One-third of Czechs called Islam a threat to the country, and two-thirds in different forms expressed their concerns about the religion.

According to the Czech Security Information Service (BIS) report, published on October 27, 2014, interethnic tensions in some regions of the Czech Republic in 2013 was threatening the democratic structure of the state. Anti-Roma sentiments in the society could pose a larger threat to the state than more extremist, but not as numerous, radicals. Czech intelligence warns that neglecting minor conflicts between the Roma and Czech population could result in radical manifestations, aggravate the problem and cause people to distrust the democratic principles of the Czech Republic. According to the study by the State Agency for Social Adaptation, published on November 26, 44% of Czech people aged 15-25 believe that the Romani families receive more social benefits; 43% believe that most of the unemployed people in the Czech Republic are Roma. 29% of young Czechs believe that Roma receive free medicine. 18% believe that Roma get free public transport. Only third of respondents called these statements false, the rest did not know the right answer. 30% of Czech youth also admitted that they have had negative experiences with national minorities. Thus, the survey demonstrates that young people actively believe in xenophobic myths.

On July 14, it was reported that according to the Public Opinion Centre, same-sex civil partnership is supported by 73% of Czech citizens. Meanwhile, only 45% of respondents spoke against the legalisation of same-sex marriage. 53% believe that open recognition of homosexuality would lead to problems between locals. 60% of respondents support the right of homosexuals to adopt children of their partner. However, 48% are against them adopting children from orphan homes. 45% were of an opposite opinion.

According to a survey conducted by the Center for Public Opinion Research in March 2013, 48% of Czechs believed that their country has too many foreigners. The opposite view is held by only 2% of the population and 43% believed that the number of foreigners is quite reasonable.

The Czech Republic is a country with a population relatively tolerant towards sexual minorities. There the LGBT movement has managed to establish a fairly effective cooperation with state and public institutions. The state financially supports activities of the Czech organization of sexual minorities SOHO (the only mass organization of its kind in Eastern Europe). However, up to 36% of respondents said they had experienced discrimination or harassment related to their sexual orientation. 13% experienced discrimination when looking for work, 27% - in other areas. According to a survey in March 2013, 23% of Czechs do not wish to see their neighbors being gays and lesbians (in comparison with 2003, when the same view was held by 42% we can speak of a significant forward motion).

These xenophobic sentiments are converting into political votes. Many mainstream politicians prefer to borrow nationalist slogans in order to gain votes; this particularly concerns issues around the Roma community. Right-wing RPSS is quite popular among the youth. According to surveys conducted in 2012, 12% of teens said they would vote for the party after turning 18 (in 2010, there were only 6% of such people). However, in the elections to the Chamber of Deputies in 2013 RPSS did not overcome the electoral threshold. Party leader T. Vandas tried to run for president, but did not collect the required number of signatures. Party “Dawn of Direct Democracy”, which can be attributed to the populists and its leader T. Okamura, attributed to moderate nationalists, scored only 6.88% of the votes and won 14 seats. Consequently, the influence of radicals on the organs of the central government remains minimal. In the elections to the European Parliament, held on May 24, 2014, the Party of Free Citizens using xenophobic rhetoric received 5.2% of the vote and one mandate. Another far-right party, Dawn of Direct Democracy, won 3.12% of the vote and did not get into the European Parliament.

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