Showing posts with label Gay Prime Minister. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Prime Minister. Show all posts

September 19, 2018

In Serbia The PM is Lesbian But She's Been Told Not To March in With The LGBT in Pride

Serbian head of government at Belgrade's Pride, Belgrade, Serbia, September 2017Image copyright

Image captionAna Brnabic is the first gay head of government in a Balkan country
It's the only Balkan country to have an openly gay prime minister  so why are some of Serbia's LGBT activists determined to keep PM Ana Brnabic away from Gay Pride? 
When Ms Brnabic was appointed last year, hopes were high in the LGBT community: not only was she the first woman to head the Serbian cabinet, she was also the first LGBT politician to hold such high office in the Balkans.
She marched in the 2017 Pride parade in Belgrade, surrounded by posters reading "Ana is here," and took selfies with dozens of people. 
But one year on, progress is scant: LGBT rights have not improved, new laws are still far from being adopted and there has been no fall in the number of attacks on gay people.
In largely conservative Orthodox Christian Serbia, a candidate for EU membership, discrimination and violence against the LGBT community are widespread. 

Two gay Prides, one gay PM and no end to problems

Ahead of 2018 Pride, a group of activists disappointed with the slow pace of reforms launched a campaign called "Say no". Its main goal is to prevent politicians from attending Pride marches, as campaigners believe they have done little to strengthen LGBT rights.  
Ms Brnabic is the main focus of their campaign, because her "work on strengthening LGBT rights has been disappointing," said a statement from the organization behind the campaign, GLIC.
Anti-gay protestors surrounded by police at Belgrade Pride in 2014.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe first peaceful Belgrade Pride happened in 2014, but anti-gay protesters also took to the streets
Speaking at the 2017 parade, Ms Brnabic said that LGBT rights would be addressed only after important problems such as inflation, pensions and the standard of living had been resolved. 
"It was a scandalous statement," Predrag Azdejkovic, the head of GLIC, told the BBC. 
Unhappy with the efforts of other gay activists, Mr Azdejkovic started another parade in June. Its goal is to "bring the gay march back to ordinary people and away from politicians". 
"They say: 'You have a gay prime minister, two parades, you should be content'. But it's all just made up," said Mr Azdejkovic. 
For Serbia's LGBT community, everyday life is still marred by widespread homophobia: a survey by the regional ERA organization showed that every fifth gay couple in Belgrade gets rejected when trying to rent a flat.
The situation is even gloomier outside the capital, activists say.
The government has adopted the Law against Discrimination but cases rarely come to justice. Another survey done by ERA showed that 90% of people in Serbia are against giving LGBT couples the right to adopt, while about 70% are against gay couples inheriting a partner's belongings after death. 
Same-sex marriage is still illegal in Serbia.

Bleak history

Anti-gay protestors surrounded by police at Belgrade's pride, Belgrade, Serbia 2014.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionAround 100 people were injured when anti-gay protesters clashed with police during Belgrade Pride in 2010
Serbia's first Pride parade in 2001 ended in violence when hundreds of hooligans and extremists attacked a peaceful march despite a heavy police presence.
And in 2010, about 100 people were injured when that year's march was also attacked in central Belgrade. 
In the years that followed, the interior ministry refused security clearance for the parade to take place. Only in 2014 did the marchers return to the streets, again with considerable police presence.

Make-up and LGBT rights

Four years later, the LGBT flag welcomes visitors to the Pride Info Centre that opened its doors to the public in central Belgrade. 
"If we had opened the centre 10 years ago, I am sure it would have been demolished," said Goran Miletic from Civil Rights Defenders, the organizer of Belgrade Pride. 
"Some of the people passing by stop and comment. They say, 'faggots' and then they leave. That is a step forward — some people don't like what they see, but we are still here. It is a small, but a significant step forward."
belgrade pride 2017.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionFor Serbia's LGBT community, everyday life is still marred by wide-spread homophobia
Talking to Belgrade's Pride magazine, Ms Brnabic said that not supporting the gay march would be hypocritical.
"For me, this is a way to make an active contribution to dealing with stereotypes and prejudices," she said. 
For the organisers of Belgrade Pride, having the head of government in the front ranks is a way to show the LGBT community that the country is changing. 
"Politicians have to be part of the parade and send the message that 'gay is ok'," Mr Miletic told the BBC. 
There is gay and there is "me" first and gay if it fits where is going to help "me".
I learn a long time ago that because someone is LGBT does not mean they will serve the LGBT community. It applies to any human been in any political process. You have blacks who did not back reform on civil rights, they felt fine the way they were and did not want to rock the boat. Even during the Trump campaign Vs. Clinton in 2016 there was a commercial on cable in which you had this Guatemalan lady preaching how good Trump will be for immigrants. As it turned out she was one of the first one to be depoted because they knew where to find her, who she was and her papers were not in order. 
There was a councilman where I live and I came to his office asking for help in regard to a hate crime in which I needed a little back up to be taken seriously by the police. He never even called me to say I can't help, Im afraid of cops or love them too much or what ever. I got him once in from of a camera and reporters and he said hit had to do with cops and he didn't get involved. He didn't get anywhere as councilman and the party did not support him for any open position so he is running for judge now. That probably means he did a favor to someone in the party and that would be his pay out. 
The man is gay but would not qet get involved in gay hate crime which at the time just before the supreme court decision on Gay Marriage were coming out faster than gays.

June 16, 2017

Serbia Will Be Having its First Gay Prime Minister


The president of Serbia has nominated a gay woman to be his prime minister in a double first for the deeply conservative Balkan state.
Ana Brnabic was chosen by the new President, Aleksandar Vucic. Her approval by parliament will be largely a formality, as his party and its allies hold an overwhelming majority.
Just a few years ago, the appointment would have been unthinkable.
But EU hopeful Serbia can present it as proof of increasing tolerance. 
Ms. Brnabic is not only Serbia's first openly gay PM, but also the first woman in that post.
"I believe that Brnabic has professional and personal qualities to be prime minister," Mr Vucic told reporters, "and that along with other ministers she will work on improvement and progress of our Serbia."
He made no mention of her sexuality.

Evidence of profound change in attitudes to homosexuality?

The symbolism of the appointment is real, but it comes against a backdrop of ingrained and sustained antipathy towards homosexuality. It may be more of a harbinger of change than evidence that change has already occurred.
Police research in 2015 found that almost half its officers agreed with the statement "homosexuality is an illness that should be treated", reports the BBC's Guy De Launey in Belgrade. 
Even the leader of one of the smaller parties in the president's coalition, Dragan Markovic Palma of Unified Serbia, said Ms. Brnabic was "not my prime minister".
He was recently quoted as saying that the new prime minister "should be a family man who knows what children are".

So what do these hostile attitudes mean in practice?

They mean gay people face discrimination and threats to their physical safety. Belgrade's Gay Pride march was banned for three years in succession on grounds of public safety after far-right protesters attacked the event in 2010.
It was revived in 2014 amid huge security, including special forces and armored cars.
But since then, civil society organizations have reported that some individuals taking part have lost jobs as a result.
A banner referring to the upcoming gay pride parade is displayed amongst supporters of Partizan Belgrade FC, 17 September 2009.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionHostility to the 2010 gay pride march in Belgrade led to violence, after which the event was canceled for several years
An anti-gay Serb protester holds an Orthodox icon in front of riot police in the centre of Belgrade during the country's second ever Gay Pride march on 10 October 2010Image copyrightAFP
Image captionAdvances have been made to protect gay people under Serbian law, but homophobia remains rife

Why is Serbia socially conservative?

It is in the region as a whole, and then there is the influence of the Church - whether Orthodox in Serbia or Catholic in Croatia, our correspondent explains.
Church-affiliated campaigners in Croatia forced a referendum in 2013 which rejected same-sex marriage. A 2015 referendum in Slovenia failed in its bid to legalize same-sex marriage.
Far-right parties, which represent a small minority of people in Serbia, have suggested the new prime minister was not a home-grown choice but "the choice of the West".

That's an allusion to Serbia's EU ambitions. Are they right?

That's the cynical interpretation - that President Aleksandar Vucic is using Ms Brnabic's nomination to demonstrate Serbia's adoption of EU values in the hope that Brussels will overlook other shortcomings. 
But symbolism may carry weight, in this case, our correspondent says, and lead people to reassess their attitudes towards sexual orientation.
Another element is that Mr. Vucic may see Ms. Brnabic as a safe choice for prime minister - competent but without a party base - who will not be a threat to his own power.

What about Ms. Brnabic's qualifications for the role?

She joined the government last year, serving as the minister for public administration - one of the least enviable jobs in the government. 
Serbia's public sector includes many Yugoslav-era businesses, some in desperate straits, as well as a sizeable civil service. In office for less than a year, she was introducing an e-governance system designed to cut down on red tape and was behind the introduction of IT as a mandatory subject in schools, our correspondent says.
As a moderniser, she does seem well placed to continue the job of implementing the reforms needed for Serbia to gain accession to the EU - such as improving relations with Kosovo, reforming the judiciary, and promoting the rights of minorities - including the LGBT population. 

What does Ms. Brnabic say?

Since joining the government last year, Ms. Brnabic has tried to place the focus on her qualifications rather than her sexual orientation, asking: "Why does it matter?"
On accepting the nomination to become prime minister, she said she wanted to serve her country and would be working on goals "that are bigger and more important than all of us individually".
Nonetheless, her appointment was welcomed by Belgrade Pride organizer Goran Miletic, who told the Guardian that it "can only be a positive message". 
Ms. Brnabic will join a small number of gay prime ministers to lead governments in Europe, including Leo Varadkar in the Republic of Ireland and Xavier Bettel in Luxembourg.

June 15, 2017

Ireland's First Openly Gay Prime Minister Takes Office

Ireland's newly elected prime minister, Leo Varadkar, shakes hands
 with members of a crowd gathered outside Leinster House, the seat
 of Irish Parliament in Dublin.
Peter Morrison/AP
When Leo Varadkar assumed power in Ireland on Wednesday, he blazed a trail of firsts: At 38 years old, the biracial son of an Indian immigrant father and Irish mother became the country's youngest-ever taoiseach, or prime minister.
He also became the first openly gay man elected to lead the Republic of Ireland, where homosexuality was illegal until just 24 years ago.
Now, as newly elected leader of the ruling Fine Gael party, Varadkar has delivered his first speech to Parliament and received his seal of office from the country's president, Michael D. Higgins.
"The government that I lead will not be one of left or right because those old divisions don't comprehend the political challenges of today," Varadkar told lawmakersWednesday.
"So the government that I lead will be one of the new European centers as we seek to build a Republic of opportunity," he continued, "and that is a republic in which every citizen gets a fair go and has the opportunity to succeed and in which every part of the country has the chance to share in our prosperity."

Despite Varadkar's firsts, Irish media and voters are "not obsessed with his sexuality or his racial origins," The Guardian's Henry McDonald tells NPR's, Ari Shapiro. Rather, it's the center-right politician's policies that have been the subject of significant debate.

"Some people label him a Thatcherite," McDonald says. "They think he's a kind of a son of Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister — right of center, very pro-free market, you know, in the style of Thatcher and Ronald Reagan."

These rightward-leaning economic stances stand in contrast with Varadkar's generally liberal positions on abortion rights and other social issues — and they drew criticism from Varadkar's rival for his party's leadership, Simon Coveney. Varadkar, who defeated Coveney earlier this month, appointed him the party's deputy on Tuesday.

Varadkar cemented his win Wednesday, with a confirmation parliamentary vote of 57 to 50, with 47 abstentions.

His predecessor, Enda Kenny, lauded the man he'd nominated as his replacement.

"As the country's youngest holder of this office, he speaks for a new generation of Irish women and Irish men," he said earlier this month, according to the BBC. "He represents a modern, diverse and inclusive Ireland and speaks for them like no other, an Ireland in which each person can fulfill their potential and live their dreams."

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