Serbia's leader to attend gay pride march for first time

17 Septembre, 2017, 21:37 | Author: Claudine Rigal
  • Serbia's leader to attend gay pride march for first time

Many approached Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, greeting her and taking selfies.

Ana Brnabic, the first openly gay prime minister in the Balkan region and the first Serbian woman in the top job, has joined about 1,000 gay activists at Belgrade's gay-pride parade.

"The government is here for all citizens and will secure the respect of rights for all citizens". "We want to send a signal that diversity makes our society stronger, that together we can do more".

Although extremist groups gathered with protest banners no incidents were reported.

"Today we walk together and together we will stress that problems still exist and that we want to work together to solve them", said activist Goran Miletic. Gay activists in Serbia have hailed Brnabic's appointment as an important step in their struggle for gay rights, but say much more still needs to be done.

Serbia's embattled gays have faced widespread harassment and violence from extremists.

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It is the first time that a Serbian prime minister joins the annual pride parade, which has been marred by violence in the past. In 2009 the parade was scuppered just before the scheduled start time due to security concerns.

Ms Brnabic attended the pride march past year when she was public administration minister in the previous government of now-President Aleksandar Vucic, who has declined invitations to attend the pride march.

In 2010, over 100 people were injured at Pride as right-wing groups clashed with police trying to protect those marching in Pride.

Vucic chose Brnabic to succeed him as premier after he was elected president. She had entered politics less than a year earlier as public administration minister.

Almost a decade later in 2010, another parade was allowed to go ahead but again descended into violence between anti-gay protesters and police, prompting a three-year ban on the event.

The surprise move made worldwide headlines and sceptics suspected an attempt at "pinkwashing", with Brnabic being used as a puppet by Vucic to improve Serbia's as it seeks European Union membership.

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