Ana Brnabic (Pic: Belgrade Pride Parade)
Serbia’s lesbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic joined the LGBTQ community at Sunday’s Belgrade Pride, an event that was banned by the authorities just a few years ago.
Brnabic was seen talking to the media and members of the public and posing for selfies with participants during the parade, making her the first national leader to attend a Pride event in the Balkans.
“The government is here for all citizens and will secure the respect of rights for all citizens,” Brnabic said.
“We want to send a signal that diversity makes our society stronger, that together we can do more,” she added.
The Pride was held under tight security to ensure the safety of the parade in the wake of condemnation of the LGBTQ community by the Serbian Orthodox Church and right-wing groups.
“We do have a very loud minority, an aggressive minority of people who are against this, but most of the people in Serbia, I think, are people who think in terms of ‘live and let live’,” Brnabic told AFP.
Brnabic was named prime minister in June, making her the first female and LGBT Serbian to hold the position. Conservative groups attacked her appointment as being anti-family and an attempt to pander to the West.
Belgrade Pride has a troubled history. The first event, held in 2011, ended in violence and the LGBTQ community in Serbia only attempted to organise another Pride in 2009.
In 2010, around 6000 members of right wing organisations clashed with the police; injuring about 150 policemen and causing several thousands of Euros in damage.
Pic: Belgrade Pride Parade
Claiming that the event was too dangerous, the authorities then refused to allow Belgrade Pride to take place again until 2014.
Serbia, which is in the process of negotiating joining the European Union, has a patchy record on LGBTQ equality and has been accused of failing to tackle homophobia and transphobia. The country does not offer any legal recognition to same-sex couples.