Serbia: A gay woman is Serbia’s next prime minister. Was her selection just for show?

You’re trying to join the European Union, which you know will boost your popularity with voters. And that won’t work unless you can convince Brussels that you’re a trustworthy liberal democrat who respects diversity and values tolerance. What to do?

In the case of Serbia, you name a young, Western-educated LGBT woman as prime minister. That, at any rate, is what President Aleksandar Vucic has done. Now the question is whether anyone will take the appointment seriously.

The nominee, 41-year-old Ana Brnabic, has no party affiliation and has never been elected to any position. She entered politics last year, when Vucic made her minister of public administration and local self-government. While the role of president is supposed to be largely ceremonial, it is widely expected that Vucic will continue to hold the reins of power. He even said as much, announcing that Brnabic will focus only on the economy, while former prime minister Ivica Dacic will “essentially lead the political part” of the government.(Paradoxically, Dacic, who like Vucic began his political career as an ally of former Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic, has a history of making homophobic comments.)

Serbia, which became an E.U. candidate in 2012 but retains close relations to Moscow, is a socially conservative country: just under half of respondents in a 2012 poll said that “homosexuality is an illness that should be treated.” A Pride parade in 2010 ended in violence after almost 150 people were injured when they were attacked by anti-gay protesters. Pride parades were not permitted again by authorities until 2014. In recent years they’ve been highly militarized, with some 5,000 policemen protecting the route.

Vucic’s decision was immediately lauded by western media and welcomed by international diplomats. But some observers are skeptical.  Read more via Washington Post