BELGRADE – A gay woman has been appointed prime minister of the Balkan state of Serbia, which is also a recognized future member of the European Union.
Ana Brnabic was handpicked by the new President, Aleksandar Vucic. Her approval by parliament will be largely a formality, as his party and its allies hold an overwhelming majority.
The president announced on Thursday evening that he was giving Brnabić, a non-party technocrat, the mandate to form a new government, describing her as “hard-working, [with] professional and personal qualities”, the Serbian news agency B92 reported.
“I believe that Brnabic has professional and personal qualities to be prime minister,” Mr Vucic told reporters.
He made no mention of her sexuality.
Brnabić, 41, a graduate of the University of Hull in England, is the Balkan nation’s first gay PM and first female PM.
She entered politics just last year when she became Serbia’s first openly gay minister, heading the ministry for public administration and local self-government. She studied in the US and graduated in Hull with a marketing MBA in 2001, before returning to Serbia to work in the wind power industry and then for US-funded development projects.
LGBT rights in Serbia
Gay people still face discrimination and threats to their physical safety in the deeply conservative Balkan nation. Belgrade’s Gay Pride march was banned for three years in succession on grounds of public safety after far-right protesters attacked the event in 2010.
It was revived in 2014 amid huge security, including special forces and armored cars.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Serbia may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activities are legal in Serbia.
Households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.