Ana Brnabic takes center stage as Serbia’s gay PM
In a world where LGBTQ people are considered as good as everyone else, or even better, it’s not hard to imagine one of our being world leaders. Take the example of Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s new lesbian prime minister.
Last June, the Serbian parliament had voted Brnabic as its first woman prime minister and first openly gay leader in the Balkans after being backed by President Aleksandar Vucic.
However, some are wary of Brnabic’s selection, fearing that she would be a lame duck leader given the authoritarian tendencies of Vucic, who heads the leader of the right-wing Serbian Progressive Party.
Ana Brnabic in the spotlight
The 41-year old Brnabic and her newly-formed cabinet were voted in by 157 MPs (in a parliament with 250 members) to lead the patriarchal conservative Serbia.
Brnabic had first joined Vucic’s government as the public administration minister, coming from the business sector. She replaced Vucic, who had been prime minister since 2014 until he was voted as president this year.
Some surmise that Vucic had selected Brnabic to deflect concerns over Serbia’s ties with Russia and to appease the European Union which it wants to join.
After Brnabic had been selected by Vucic, a number of the parliament’s lawmakers had declared their refusal to vote for her because of her sexuality.
“Ana Brnabic is not my prime minister,” said Dragan Markovic Palma, head of the United Serbia party.
While being gay only became legal in Serbia in 1994, it still doesn’t recognize same-sex relationships.
Ana Brnabic: Not a gay PM
Born on 28th of September 1975 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Brnabic isn’t that accepting of being branded as a gay prime minister.
“Serbia is changing and changing fast, and if you will, I am part of that change, but I do not want to be branded ‘Serbia’s gay PM’,” she said in an interview.
She added that she isn’t keen on pushing an LGBT advocacy at the moment she thinks that if Serbian society “have jobs, better paid jobs,” it will become a more tolerant society.
Brnabic likewise thinks that Serbia isn’t homophobic. She said: “The citizens of Serbia have a right not to be portrayed by a loud minority.”
She further said that Vucic isn’t controlling her and only gives her broad advice like “focus on a limited number of issues, don’t spread out, avoid useless meetings, leave time to think and move fast.”
What other say of Ana Brnabic
Brnabic’s selection as prime minister had gotten a lot of mixed responses.
“Even in some western countries it would be big news and a positive signal if a gay or lesbian person became prime minister or minister,” said Goran Miletić, a civil rights activist and Belgrade Pride organizer.
Meanwhile, Boban Stojanović, a political scientist at the University of Belgrade, said: “I do not believe that Brnabić will lead or have an impact on foreign policy. This will remain the exclusive domain of President Vučić.”
“The choice of a member of the LGBT community for prime minister will be used as an indicator of the state of civil and human rights, and that is not realistic,” Stojanović further said.
Likewise, even the New York Times weighed in with an editorial: “In fact, there is every reason to suspect that the choice of Ms. Brnabic is a decoy move.”
“Mr. Vucic may be trying to calm European concerns as Serbia moves toward membership in the European Union, while he continues to cozy up to Russia and beef up Serbia’s military,” the broadsheet warned.