Ana Brnabic. Serbia’s new Prime Minister is pro-Europe and openly gay

The appointment of an openly gay Prime Minister, Ana Brnabic, in Serbia represents a turning point for this conservative country.

Ana Brnabic, 41, is Serbia’s new Prime Minister, and is openly gay. For such a conservative country – 80 per cent of Serbia’s 7.1 million citizens are orthodox Christians – this is a real turning point. Brnabic, chosen by President Aleksandar Vucic, will also be the first woman to lead the country. This move is aimed to give a more tolerant and open image of Serbia, which is trying to join the European Union (its application was filed in Brussels in 2012 and negotiations are still ongoing).

Homophobic reactions at the Parliament

The new government will be supported by the Serbian Progressive Party, which has an overwhelming majority in the Parliament. Nonetheless, Ana Brnabic could be perceived as a risk. The newly elected Prime Minister, in fact, doesn’t boast a great political experience, as she held her first public office last year when she was appointed Minister of Public Administration. At that time the choice caused an outcry in the far right, and, similarly, today some are turning up their nose – not only among the ultra-conservatives. Dragan Markovic, the leader of one of the smaller parties in the President’s coalition, said that the new Prime Minister “should be a family man who knows what children are”.

Ana Brnabic has shown herself unperturbed by the attacks linked to her sexual orientation. Answering to Markovic, for instance, she only defined his declarations “inadequate, irresponsible and discriminatory”. It’s no coincidence that Brnabic grew up out of Serbia. Her academic career led her in the United States and England, where she got a degree in marketing at the University of Hull. So, she is familiar with the Western world also thanks to her professional experience in agricultural development programmes funded by the European Union and by USAid.

“I’m not here as an advocate of the LGBT community”

Ana Brnabic said that she isn’t in government “as an advocate of the LGBT community”, despite she took part in a gay pride parade in Belgrade in 2016. And she added that she doesn’t like when people use her sexual orientation to describe her character. “Why does it matter? I don’t know why it matters. What is important is whether someone is capable, professional, hard-working, honest, likes their country and wants to work in its best interest. Serving my country is the greatest honour. I will work in a devoted and responsible way with great love and honesty”.

What Vucic expects of Brnabic is a support in the difficult relationships with a neighbouring country. Brnabic is of Croatian origin and, according to international media, Serbia’s President believes this could silence some of the accusations of being too nationalist.

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