Serbia: Progress on Gay Rights in Serbia, With a Catch

Serbia hardly has a progressive track record on gay rights. So when President Aleksandar Vucic announced this month that he was nominating Ana Brnabic, a 41-year-old, openly lesbian, woman as prime minister, he stunned Serbians and outside observers alike.

Ms. Brnabic — who only entered politics last year when Mr. Vucic named her a minister of public administration and local government — would secure a double first for Serbia, which has never been led by a woman or by someone who is openly gay. The nomination also plays to the canny Mr. Vucic’s political ambitions.

In fact, there is every reason to suspect that the choice of Ms. Brnabic is a decoy move. Mr. Vucic may be trying to calm European concerns as Serbia moves toward membership in the European Union, while he continues to cozy up to Russia and beef up Serbia’s military.

At the same time, a failure by Serbia’s Parliament to approve Ms. Brnabic’s nomination would trigger an early election. It would be Serbia’s third in five years, and with each election, Mr. Vucic has increased his power. When he resigned in March as prime minister to run for the largely ceremonial office of president, there were deep suspicions that he intended to shift the center of power to the presidency and install a puppet as prime minister. His victory on April 2 led to huge street protests in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade.  Read more via New York Times