Serbia’s Prime Minister, Ana Brnabic, has become a parent after her same sex partner, Milica Djurdjic gave birth. But LGBTI rights activists in the country were quick to note that same sex couples still cannot legally marry in Serbia and attacks on LGBTI people remain worryingly common.
“News that Brnabic became a parent is good in general but it also just shows how much privileged she is,” Aleksandar Savic, from the Belgrade Pride Info Center, told BIRN.
He said the Prime Minister could easily afford to become a parent because she is in power and protected from the kinds of problems the community faces. “Homophobia in Serbia is something that doesn’t tackle her,” Savic noted.
News of her parenthood broke on Wednesday afternoon, prompting world media to describe her as the first world leader to have a child with a gay partner.
Serbian media reported that Brnabic’s partner and baby, named Igor, were “doing fine”. The BBC reported that Djurdjic had become pregnant through artificial insemination.
But Savic said other same sex couples in Serbia do not have same rights. “The law is a problem to all who are not in power,” he underlined.
Serbian family law defines marriage in purely heterosexual terms as a “community of life between a woman and a man”. It does not recognize unions of same sex couples.
Such couples in Serbia may not adopt children, and the state doesn’t recognize them as parents if they have a child. Only the biological mother has legal rights in this case.
After media published news that Brnabic and her partner had become parents, social networks were flooded with insulting comments by right-wingers.
The comments were condemned by the human rights activists and state officials.
If same sex couples want to have children through artificial insemination, they often have to seek medical treatment abroad. Serbia does not have sperm banks or the option of donating reproductive material.
Savic also noted that LGBTI people in Serbia are often targeted in a still highly conservative society. “For example, I only rarely use public buses,” he pointed out.
The rights organisation Amnesty International says the authorities in Serbia have failed to protect LGBTI individuals and organizations from discrimination, threats and physical attacks.
Since December last year, the Belgrade office of the Pride Info Center has been attacked three times. None of the attacks ended in court. Nor were they publicly condemned by Prime Minister Brnabic.
One of the best known cases of discrimination in Serbia recently occurred when the Minister for Innovations, Nenad Popovic, accused neighbouring Croatia of “attempting to import into Serbia” children’s books that promote same sex parents.
“This should be stopped urgently! We have to stop those who want to convince us that it’s OK that Roko [a figure from the book] has two moms, and Ana [also from the book] has two dads,” Popovic wrote last year on Twitter. The Commissioner for the Protection of Equality condemned the remarks.
Brnabic became Serbia’s first female and first gay prime minister in 2017.
Her previous appointment as a government minister was welcomed by Serbian LGBT groups. One of them, Gay Echo, named her “Gay icon for 2016”.