Thousands rally in Prague to honor 2 slain Slovak gay men

PRAGUE (AP) — Thousands rallied in the Czech capital Wednesday to honor two Slovak gay men shot dead this month outside a bar in Slovakia, and demanded better protection of LGBTQ people and their families.

The gathering in Prague’s central Wenceslas Square was held the same day the funerals of Matúš Horváth and Juraj Vankulič were conducted in Slovakia.

Police said they boosted their presence at the Prague rally after they detained a man who was threating to use a gun against the LGBTQ people at the square.

“We want to live without fear,” one of the banners on display read. “A terrorist intentionally killed LGBTQ people,” said Czeslaw Walek, one of the organizers. “Only by accident did he not kill more.”

Walek said some 17,000 people so far have signed a petition calling on the Czech government and Parliament to approve legislation that would give LGBTQ people the same protection that ethnic, racial and other minorities enjoy. The petition also demands that the country allows same-sex marriages.

The two Slovaks were killed two weeks ago in front of a bar, which is a popular spot for the local LGBTQ community in the Slovak capital of Bratislava.

The 19-year-old suspect was found dead. Police said he likely shot himself in his head.

The suspect posted a racist text on Twitter voicing hatred for Jews and LGBTQ people, and posts about the shooting.

Police were initially investigating the killings as a hate crime but later said they suspected it was a terror act. They said the suspect was likely planning to target other people, including Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger.

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