Serbia PM announces first openly gay minister

BELGRADE (AFP) - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic announced a new cabinet line-up on Monday (Aug 9) that included the first openly gay ministerial candidate in the conservative Balkan country.

Ana Brnabic, 40, is set to be appointed minister for state administration, pending parliamentary approval of the cabinet on Tuesday.

"Her personal choices do not interest me, she is welcome in the Serbian government," Vucic told reporters when asked about Brnabic's sexuality.

"I told her that what interests me is the work you can do," he said.

Homophobia is widespread in Serbia and other Balkan societies, and Belgrade has come under pressure to improve protection for minorities, including the LGBT community, since starting EU accession talks.

More than 80 percent of Serbia's seven million people are Orthodox Christians.

At Belgrade's Gay Pride march in 2010, hardline nationalists attacked participants and clashed with police, wounding 150 people and prompting officials to ban the parade for the next three years.

It has taken Vucic more than three months to put together a cabinet after his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) won re-election in snap polls in late April.

Serbia's parliament, where he has majority support, is due meet on Tuesday afternoon to vote in the new ministerial candidates.

Brnabic, who studied in Britain, has worked as the head of NALED Serbia, the National Alliance for Local Economic Development, a public-private association that aims to improve the business environment.