Serbia has effectively banned LGBTQ couples from having children, just weeks after the lesbian prime minister welcomed her own son.
Ana Brnabic is one of the world’s first openly gay heads of government, and she was the first prime minister to have a child with her same-sex partner while in office. Her partner, Milica Djurdjic, gave birth to a son in February.
LGBTQ advocates worldwide hailed the birth as a history-making milestone for Serbia, a conservative country where homophobia is common and gay marriage is illegal. But any hopes that the birth was a sign of progress were quickly dashed.
Mere weeks later, health minister Zlatibor Loncar unrolled a policy banning anyone with a “history of homosexual relations during the last five years” from donating reproductive cells for artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization. Brnabic and her partner used artificial insemination to conceive their son.
Adoption is also banned for same-sex couples in Serbia (though single people can adopt regardless of their sexual orientation). Thus, this new policy effectively removes all pathways to parenthood for same-sex couples. Couples can leave the country to have a child, as Brnabic and Djurdjic did, but they won’t both be legally recognized as parents in Serbia.
Brnabic has yet to weigh in on the issue publicly. She has long faced criticism for failing to be more vocal about LGBTQ rights in her country.
Serbian citizens, however, haven’t hesitated to call out the new administration policy as a violation of human rights. Dragoslava Barzut, executive director of the LGBTQ advocacy group De Se Zna!, says that several Serbian non-government organizations have filed formal complaints against the policy. It may still be repealed, as it has to undergo review by the country’s equality commissioner.