Due to her work in the Balkan region, it is only fair that Brnabic receives this position. The Balkan region is an area where there are harsh traces of sexism and homophobia, but that hasn’t stopped Brnabic, an openly gay woman. She joined the government last year, and she previously served as a public administrator and local government minister.
When speaking about Brnabic, President Vucic told reporters, “I believe that Brnabic has professional and personal qualities to be prime minister.” He made no mention of her sexuality.
In addition to Brnabic being the first openly gay prime minister, she is also the first woman. Although this is an improvement, and proves an increase of tolerance in this country, there is still a lot of work to be done.
For example, even the leader of a smaller political party, Dragan Markovic Palma of Unified Serbia, said Brnabic was “not my prime minister.” He was also quoted as saying that the new prime minister “should be a family man who knows what children are”.
These statements show the discrimination and wrongful treatment that individuals, even in a high positions, have to encounter.
These negative attitudes increase violence, and threaten people’s safety solely due to their sexual orientation. This has impacted a great number of people and Belgrade’s Gay Pride march was banned for three years, in succession, on the grounds of public safety, after far-right protesters attacked the event in 2010.
Although the march returned in 2014, there was need for huge security, including special forces and armored cars.
Civil society organizations have also reported that some individuals, who took part in the march, have lost jobs as a result. It is clear to see that these types of actions hold back progress and keep bigotry alive.
Brnabic has made an effort to focus on her qualifications for her job rather than her sexual
orientation. She has asked, “Why does it matter?” Which is a question we should all reflect on. Her lived experiences and hard work says much more than her sexual preferences.
On accepting the nomination to become prime minister, she said that she would be working on goals “that are bigger and more important than all of us individually.”
Brnabic will join a small number of gay prime ministers to lead governments in Europe, including Leo Varadkar in the Republic of Ireland and Xavier Bettel in Luxembourg. It is exciting to anticipate the improvements and initiatives that these leaders will make for our world.
Serbia is showing how far acceptance can go, and this nomination will hopefully encourage other countries to look beyond the surface level of a person, and see that there is more to someone than their sexual orientation.
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