Serbia’s First Openly Lesbian Prime Minister Marches In Belgrade Pride Parade

Serbia’s first openly gay prime minister, Ana Brnabic, marched in Belgrade’s Pride parade for the first time saying her presence demonstrates the government’s respect for all of its citizens.

Via Deutsche Welle:

“My message here today is that the government respects all citizens,” Brnabic told reporters. “We want to send a signal that diversity makes our society stronger.”

Carrying rainbow flags, balloons and a banner reading, “For change,” pride participants walked through the capital, Belgrade.

“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.

Riot police cordoned off the city center with metal fences as helicopters flew overhead to prevent possible clashes with extremist groups opposed to the pride gathering. Opponents gathered with their own banners but no incidents were reported.

Serbia has recently tried to improve its image with an eye towards European Union membership. Gay activists in Serbia hailed Brnabic’s appointment in June 2017 as an important step in their struggle for gay rights, but say much more still needs to be done.

Belgrade Hosts First Gay Pride Celebration in Four Years

Yesterday in Belgrade, over 1,000 people took part in the first gay pride event in four years.

The past three years saw pride events cancelled due to threats and protests. Only small outbreaks of violence occurred thanks in great part to the protection by thousands of riot police.

From Gay Star News:

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic warned yesterday that ‘whoever tries to provoke incidents will be very, very severely punished.’

Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali and Michael Davenport, the head of the European Union’s delegation to Serbia, were among the politicians and dignitaries in attendance.

‘Belgrade is an open city, which means it is open to all and that everyone here is equal,’ Mali said, as reported by Radio Free Europe.

The country, which is pursuing EU membership, has reportedly come under pressure from the Union, which says the event is a test of Serbia’s commitment to the fundamental freedoms promoted by the bloc.

Homophobia is widespread in Serbia, often supported by right-wing parties and church leaders.