Progressive Balkan Love: Croatian Origins, Serbia’s First Gay Prime Minister

Total Croatia News

Ana Brnabić, the current Serbian Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-government, has just been appointed prime minister of Serbia, reports Index on June 15, 2017.

President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić announced he was giving Brnabić, an independent politician, the mandate to form a new government earlier today. “Coming up with this decision wasn’t easy. This is not a defeat for the Serbian Progressive Party, nor for anyone else, but an idea to find the best solution. The future PM must ensure further reinforcement of the country’s reputation, as well as further reforms. Serbia needs to work on its image, and doesn’t need to prove its independence and sovereignity to anyone”, said Vučić. He added that Brnabić will focus on issues in domains of “economics and digitalisation”, while the foreign minister Ivica Dačić, who has been standing in as the PM and “enjoys his great confidence”, will lead “the political part”.

Brnabić, 41, studied business administration in the US and is a graduate of the University of Hull in England with an MBA in marketing. She was born in Belgrade, but is known to have Croatian origins and spends summers in her family home in Stara Baška on Krk island.

She’s both the first gay PM and first female PM in Serbia’s history. She entered politics in 2016 and became Serbia’s first openly gay minister; not a small feat for a country in the region where a homophobic culture still prevails.

The Guardian reported about Brnabić’s appointment and the attitude towards the LGBT community in Serbia, saying that “violence and discrimination are widespread and recourse to justice after homophobic attacks limited by social stigma. Belgrade’s high-profile Pride parade has been suspended in the past over “security concerns” and now takes place under heavy police guard, amid protests by the far right and the Orthodox church.”

Civil rights activist and Belgrade Pride organiser Goran Miletić called the appointment of Brnabić “a positive message”, stating that a gay or lesbian person becoming minister or PM would be “big news” even in some western countries: “It’s even more important for a country where 65% believe homosexuality is an illness and 78% think homosexuality shouldn’t be expressed outside homes”. He also noted he doesn’t believe the respect for the LGBT community will grow in near future, while the political scientist at the University of Belgrade Boban Stojanović considers that Brnabić’s appointment might end up as ‘window-dressing’ for Serbia. “The problem is that it will mask the real picture of the situation of civil and human rights in Serbia. 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”, said Stojanović. 

Vučić in turn explained his decision as a result of confidence that Brnabić will “contribute to Serbia’s reputation both in the West and the East, in eurointegrations, relations with the Russian Federation, China, Arab countries, but also with all other countries in the world and the region”. Asked about his view of Brnabić’s private life in 2016, he referred to her as a woman with an impeccable biography “who has done a lot for all of us”, and said he was interested “only in her results”.

Thew new government is supposed to be formed before June 23, the date of Vučić’s inauguration ceremony.


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