Some people are surprised to hear that a European city only passed anti-discrimination laws addressing sexual orientation in 2009. However, those familiar with geography know that Prague had to battle the orthodoxy that envelops the Czech Republic and its close neighbors Austria, Poland and Slovakia.
Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1962, and the age of consent was lowered from 18 to 15 to be on par with heterosexual activity in 1990. Whereas the holy grail of same-sex marriage is still illegal, same-sex unions have been recognized since 2006. Last year, the Czech Republic made legal the adoption of children by LGBT individuals, regardless of whether they are in a partnership.
Recent surveys have revealed that close to half the Czech population say that they personally know someone who is homosexual. An LGBT social network conducted a survey of gay men in 120 different countries in 2015 that placed the country in 18th place overall.
All this hints to a watershed of change. The central point of this change, particularly for younger people, is the capital, Prague. It has a very active gay nightlife scene with over two dozen bars, clubs and saunas that cater specifically for the LGBT population.
The oldest gay bar is Friends Bar which you can find in the historical Old Town suburb. Loud, gaudy and vibrant, it caters more to the drag crowd after the closing of Tingl Tangl, the oldest drag club.
Vinohrady is regarded as the center of Prague’s LGBT action and inevitably houses some of the biggest and mot exciting venues. Chief among these is probably Club Termix which pumps out retro and techno music for its diverse clientele, of which a large proportion is international.
The Kaaba Cafe is located on the outer fringe of Vinohrady but loses none of the LGBT vibe. More a cafe catering to artsy types than a party destination, the Kaaba features decor and waitresses that seem to have stepped out of the comics and graphic novels that you can peruse as you sip your latte and nurse that hangover with a fatty meal.
Prague is one of the growing number of major cities around the world that boasts its own Pride Parade. Held around August, the annual event has become an official feature of the city’s calendar after the debut celebration in 2011.
The Czech capital is a wonderfully old, beautifully constructed, historical city and no visitor should leave without taking in at least some of the glimpses into the past that it offers. From Europe’s oldest synagogue, now almost 750 years old to the mini Eiffel Tower in Petrin Gardens to the sprawling 111 acres of Prague Zoo, there is something to enrapture every visitor.
The LGBT community is increasingly vibrant and visible and you will fit right in.