Serbian PM appoints first gay Cabinet minister, says her sexuality is not a big deal

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić has appointed an openly gay politician to his cabinet, in a historic first in the conservative country.

Mr Vučić, who leads the right-wing Serbian Progressive Party, has been Prime Minister since 2014 and recently won re-election.

This month he has been outlining his new government and re-appointing his Cabinet.

As part of the changes, he named Ana Brnabic, who is openly gay, as Minister for Public Administration.

Mr Vučić told reporters: “If you can tell me something bad about her professional resume, tell me. I’m only interested in what her result will be in the difficult job ahead of her.

“She has a great energy and I am looking forward to working with her.”

But the change may indeed break down barriers in the former Yugoslav Balkan country, which is still conservative on LGBT rights.

Homosexuality only became legal nationwide in 1994, an there is still no recognition of same-sex relationships.

Same-sex marriage remains constitutionally banned.

Belgrade Pride parade was banned in 2011, 2012 and 2013 by authorities over fears of violence – after violent clashes marred Belgrade Pride celebrations in 2010.

But the event was allowed to return in 2014 and 2015, with largely peaceful marches taking place. It is set to go ahead again next month.

The leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej, is a strong opponent of LGBT rights.

He claimed  “a great majority” are against “shameless” Pride events.

He added that organisers “and their mentors from Europe” should have “learnt their lesson” in 2010 when the parade was violently disrupted.