Gay Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić responds to homophobic jibe from cabinet minister
Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabić has responded to a government minister who made homophobic remarks.
Nenad Popović, who is a cabinet minister under Serbia’s PM Ana Nenad Popović, made the controversial comments earlier this week.
The minister had joined calls for a ban on children’s books featuring same-sex couples, after media picked up a viral ‘moral panic’ relating to books on sale in Croatia.
He tweeted: “We are fighting as a state to increase the birth rate, but at the same time we import gay picture books from Croatia! This needs to stop immediately!
“We must [resist] those who want to convince us that it’s okay to say ‘Roko has two moms, and Ana has two dads’.”
The minister insisted he was speaking “as a parent and citizen of Serbia which is the home of traditional values”, and denied that he had been “invoking violence” by speaking out.
The comments earned him a put-down from the country’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, who is one of relatively few openly gay world leaders.
According to Serbian news station B92, Brnabić said: “His job is to make sure Roko, Stefan, Milos, and any other child stays in Serbia, instead of dealing with who their parents are.
“That statement is not fully in the spirit of tolerance that this government of Serbia wants to promote.”
The PM said she would speak to Popović privately about the issue, adding: “I think he mixed up every topic in that statement. There’s no correlation between the birth rate and somebody being gay.
“Gay persons, too, have reproductive organs, and nobody, no government in the world, can decide whether or not they’ll have children.”
Ms Brnabić was appointed as the country’s PM by Serbia’s conservative President Aleksandar Vučić in 2017, making her one of three out leaders in office around the world today.
The other two openly gay leaders, Ireland’s Leo Varadkar and Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel, both serve in countries that have made substantial progress on LGBT rights, but the legal situation is bleak for couples in Serbia.
Brnabić insists her sexuality has never been an issue in the country.
She said: “I’ve been openly gay throughout my life and I’ve never had a problem in Serbia. I would like to think that Serbia is not that conservative or homophobic, or xenophobic for that matter.
“There’s certainly room to improve and change and there’s certainly still people who think, ‘this is not okay, that this is not part of our tradition and part of our accepted values’, but I do think that they are a minority. A loud minority, granted, but a minority.
“I do feel I have huge support from the people in Serbia.”
Brnabić last year marched in Belgrade’s Pride parade, marking a first for the head of government.
Shetold reporters that she wanted to partake in the march to signal a move towards a more diverse Serbia.
“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,” she added.
Although extremist groups gathered with protest banners no incidents were reported.
Goran Miletic, one of many LGBT+ activists at the parade, said that Brnabic partaking in the event was important but that issues surrounding equality in the country still needed to be resolved.
“Today we walk together and together we will stress that problems still exist and that we want to work together to solve them,” Miletic said.
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