Ana Brnabic has become the first gay female prime minister of Serbia in a milestone for the nation.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced on Thursday he had nominated Brnabic to succeed him and gave her the mandate to form a new government, Serbian news agency B92 reported.
“If elected in parliament, I will run the government with dedication and responsibility and I will do my job honestly and with love,” Brnabic told state Tanjug news agency.
Civil rights activist Goran Miletic told the Guardian Brnabic’s appointment was especially significant given Serbia’s track record on LGBTI rights.
“Even in some Western countries it would be big news and a positive signal if a gay or lesbian person became prime minister or minister,” he said.
“It is even more important for a country where 65% believe that homosexuality is an illness and 78% think that homosexuality should not be expressed outside homes.
“The appointment of a lesbian can only be a positive message.”
But he said respect for LGBTI people in the country was unlikely to change in the near future, with Belgrade’s annual Pride parade recently forced to take place under heavy police guard amid risk of protests.
Serbian political scientist Boban Stojanovic cautioned that Brnabic’s appointment could amount to a token gesture that “masks 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,” he told The Guardian.
This month, Leo Varadkar recently became Ireland’s first gay prime minister when he was elected leader by the ruling conservative party.