Derogatory comments by the Czech Republic’s former prime minister about Jews, gays and the Catholic Church led Thursday to his resignation as chairman of his conservative political party.
Mirek Topolanek had been under strong pressure from within his Civic Democratic Party to step down following the comments to the editorial staff of the gay magazine Lui. He announced last week that he would not lead his party’s campaign in a May 28-29 election or run as a candidate.
Topolanek’s were made came during an informal conversation with editorial staff of the magazine and were not meant for publication. A video of the meeting was leaked to other media, however.
He said that Transport Minister Gustav Slamecka is “a homosexual who ‘gives in’ when he faces a serious problem”’ About Prime Minister Jan Fischer, he said, “he’s simply a Jew; he’s not gay and he gives in even sooner.” Fischer is Jewish. Slamecka has not publicly commented on his sexual orientation.
Topolanek also accused the Roman Catholic church of “brainwashing’’ believers.
Topolanek subsequently said his words were misinterpreted, called the leak a “provocation,” and apologized on March 21—the day the tabloid Blesk published his comments.
“I apologize to gays—friends of mine and others,” Topolanek said in a statement. “I apologize to church members—those I know and those I don’t know. I apologize to Jews—politicians and all the others. “
“I apologize to the citizens.”
There was little public outcry and Slamecka said he knew Topolanek’s views were not “anti-Semitic or homophobic.’’
But Fischer called Topolanek’s remarks “stupid” and announced that he would limit meetings with him to a minimum.
Topolanek has a record of making provocative statements. He made international headlines last year when he—as prime minister of the country holding the European Union rotating presidency—he described the way President Barack Obama was dealing with the economic crisis as the “road to hell.”
The Czech Republic has been run by a caretaker government after Topolanek’s coalition government lost a parliamentary no-confidence vote last year in March.