Serbia’s gay prime minister wins second term after contested landslide victory sparked corruption claims

Ana Brnabic

Serbia’s first female and first openly gay prime minister Ana Brnabic has won a second term following an election marred by claims of corruption.

Prime minister Brnabic, leader of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, was nominated by the Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic to remain in office after securing 188 deputies in the 250-seat parliament.

Her landslide victory came amid a rocky campaign that saw the June 21 election being boycotted by the main opposition parties, who accused president Vucic of suppressing media critical of his rule.

Defending Brnabic at a press conference on Monday, Vucic said: “Brnabic didn’t use her term of office to benefit foreign or local power centers, she just fought for the interests of this country.”

He added that he had asked Brnabic to choose half of the new cabinet. “The new government will have three main goals, namely to strengthen the country in the fields of the economy, health, and defence,” he said.

The approval of Brnabic’s new cabinet is largely a formality, and parliament is expected to reconvene in the coming days.

Brnabic, 43, became Serbia’s first female and first openly gay prime minister in 2017 after Vucic resigned the post in order to stand in the presidential election.

Her appointment seemed unlikely as same-sex marriage remains constitutionally prohibited in Serbia and homophobia is common.

While she appears to have the support of the electorate, she’s an unpopular figure among Serbia’s LGBT+ community, who told her she wasn’t welcome at the 2018 Pride parade because of a lack of progress on LGBT+ issues.

She attended the previous year but stoked tensions when she told crowds that LGBT+ issues would only be addressed once Serbia had tackled more important problems, including inflation, pensions and the standard of living.

It was “a scandalous statement,” the head of Serbia’s Gay Lesbian Info Centre, Predrag Azdejkovic, told the BBC at the time. There has been little improvement on LGBT+ issues in the years since.

In 2019 Brnabic’s government moved to ban artificial insemination and IVF for anyone who has “a history of homosexual relations” within the last five years – even though artificial insemination was the very method Brnabic herself used to conceive a child.