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Serbian gay prime minister Ana Brnabic joins Pride Parade in Belgrade

Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Republic of Serbia via Wikimedia

It is the first time a Serbian prime minister has joined the annual event. 

Serbia’s first openly gay – and female – prime minister, Ana Brnabic, has joined over a thousand activists at Belgrade’s annual Pride Parade.

Her appearance at the parade marks the first time a Serbian prime minister has ever participated in the event, an event which is held under heavy security due to the country’s conservative beliefs.

“My message to the citizens of Serbia is that the government will respect the rights of all citizens, both the majority and minorities,” Brnabic said before joining the parade.

“The Serbian government is there for all citizens, both majority and minority, to show that it respects diversity.”

Belgrade’s 2017 pride event is the fourth consecutive year the country have marched.

Related: Serbia now has its first ever openly gay (and female) prime minister. 

In 2010, the event was banned for three years after anti-gay protesters clashed with police officers, resulting in over 100 people being injured.

During an interview with newspaper Politika, Brnabic commented on Serbia’s progress with LGBT rights, stating: “You can see the borders of freedom are shifting and, in this respect, our society has made great progress in recent years.”

Brnabic made headlines in June after she became the second openly lesbian prime minister in the world, after Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, former prime minister of Iceland.

The decision was seen as a huge step forward for the conservative country, seeing as how Serbia only declassified homosexuality as a mental disease in 2008.

In 2012, researched showed that 48% of Serbians believed homosexuality was still a mental illness.

Related: Politicians are refusing to support Serbia’s prime minister because she’s gay.

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