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Liberal media puzzled: Openly gay Brnabic & Weidel prefer hard work to aggressive PC campaigning

Dmitry Babich
Dmitry Babich was born in Moscow, in 1970. He has worked for various media outlets for 25 years, including The Moscow News and RIA Novosti news agency. He is currently working as a political analyst at Sputnik International, and is a frequent guest on BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN commenting on international affairs and history.
Liberal media puzzled: Openly gay Brnabic & Weidel prefer hard work to aggressive PC campaigning
Western ultra-liberals and conservatives seem to forget the real European values, where tolerance is based on respect for a person’s private life and professional qualities are put above belonging to minority groups.

When two years ago, in June 2017, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic appointed Ana Brnabic (a 42-year-old openly gay person who worked for American and British NGOs, including USAid) to the position of prime minister, the Western media was stupefied. It actually took Western journalists a few days to get out of their stupor.

Ana Brnabic is a member of a minority group, not a spokesperson for it

How was it possible? Could Aleksandar Vucic, this “ultranationalist” information minister (as the Guardian put it) in the government of the much-maligned Slobodan Milosevic be the one to make the dreams of the gay rights activists come true? (Milosevic was Serbia’s president, and was toppled in a Western-backed ‘revolution’ in 2001 after the American-led invasion of Yugoslavia in 1999.) 

Could Vucic be the first leader of Serbia to overcome anti-gay prejudice? And will the government of Serbia, a country frequently criticized by the EU and the US for its “patriarchal” ways, turn Serbia into a venue for permanent gay pride parades? Actually, this was exactly what a lot of Vucic’s conservative critics predicted. But Vucic was adamant: “She told me: Mr. President, I must tell you that people are going always to talk about that... I responded that I was only interested in her results and that I knew how hard working and professional she was,” Vucic was quoted as saying in 2017 by the Serb news site Info 24.

Both gay rights activists and conservatives, however, saw their respective hopes and fears dashed. It soon transpired that Ana Brnabic, while indeed openly gay, was not a demagogue. She did not substitute hard work in government with activism.

I am not their speaker,” Brnabic said regarding gay Serbs after her appointment two years ago. But she also did not answer the hostile critics who thought her sexual orientation was bad for the country’s moral values. “I did not react. This was my answer,” Brnabic was quoted as saying in 2017 by German magazine Spiegel. Later she explained her position in an interview to Serb media:

I don’t want to be called a gay prime minister, just like my colleagues would not like to be called heterosexual ministers. I just want to do my job.”

In an interview with the Guardian, Brnabic also spoke against forcing tolerance on people in Serbia by special punitive laws, as is often done now in the US and some EU states. “I don’t think Serbia is that homophobic”, she told the Guardian. “The citizens of Serbia have a right not to be portrayed by a loud minority. We can have a culture where we can disagree, as long as there is no violence. We all have different views and values, but I don’t want to change people’s thinking by law.” 

Having noted this and similar statements from Ana Brnabic, Spiegel concluded that Brnabic “disappointed” the radicals on both sides. Instead of being a flamboyant speaker on “identity politics,” the new female prime minister turned out to be a workaholic. She prided herself on providing new jobs for the people and a more active role for citizens in the bodies of local self-government. And she talked about empowering citizens, a lot more than about gay parades – which she has only taken part in once. (Brnabic was the minister of local self-government before being appointed to her current position.)

Supporters of gay marriage were fascinated in February this year by the news that Milica Djurdjic, the permanent gay partner of Brnabic, gave birth to a boy named Igor (a very common name in Russia, the language of which Brnabic speaks perfectly). Brnabic’s office issued a statement about the birth and reported that the mother and son were in good condition, but the prime minister herself did not say anything in public and never uttered a word about her support or non-support for gay marriage. Instead, she is reported to be raising the newborn boy as her son.

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Sexual minorities in Serbia were taken aback by the rather prosaic ending to such a promising coming out, and reacted angrily. “The only thing we have in common is that we are both lesbians,” a populist Serb gay activist was quoted as saying by Blic daily.

Anyway, thanks to Brnabic, critics of Vucic’s policies inside the EU, and particularly in Germany, had to shut up for a while – at least on the gay rights issue. Germany can be singled out here due to a similar story that played out, when detractors of the much-demonized Alternative for Germany (AfD) party had to stop accusing its leaders of homophobia.

Alice Weidel – supposed xenophobe & homophobe – in love with a foreigner of the same sex

The attacks of the AfD’s critics were undermined by the fact that the head of the AfD’s parliament faction, Alice Weidel, 40, is in an openly gay relationship with a film producer of Sri-Lankan origin, Sarah Bossard.

Weidel, an educated German woman, knows perfectly well that under the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 40s, forced medical treatment would be the mildest punishment possible for people like her. And she seems to be using her sexuality with the aim of dispelling the mainstream media’s ‘neo-Nazi’ label, which is often used against the AfD (whose program, by the way, calls for re-making NATO into a purely defensive organization, normalizing relations with Russia, and ending the bloody “democratizing” wars waged by the West in the Middle East).

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Here is how the Daily Mail described Alice Weidel’s fight to defend her party, in an article titled, ‘Lesbian Mother of Two is Taking On Angela Merkel’:

The dynamic former Goldman Sachs banker, who speaks Chinese, has used her sexuality on the campaign trail as an example of how her party is misunderstood, telling a rally in Viernheim last week: ‘I am homosexual. I waited on purpose to see, but nobody seems to have got up and walked out. Which is of course a surprise as the AfD is a homophobic party. I read this everyday!’”

By placing Alice Weidel in such an important position, AfD leader Alexander Gauland obviously sought to defend his party from attacks from the gay front – and he succeeded. 

The German ultra-liberal press, usually very aggressive in its political correctness, had to bite its tongue before criticizing Weidel’s position on a lot of issues. For example, Weidel is against early sex education for children (including the controversial ‘gender games’). Weidel is also not in a rush to legalize gay marriage: she raises two children in a civil partnership with Sri-Lankan Sarah Bossard, who is currently working as a film-maker and who has a Swiss passport (so much for Miss Weidel and her party ‘hating all foreigners’, as the mainstream media claims). So, if the mainstream press is always eager to attack politicians for their lack of support for gay marriage (even the supposedly ‘conservative’ Chancellor Angela Merkel recently pronounced her party’s acceptance of this term), it is indeed difficult for those ever-accusing journalists to use the same aggressive tactic against Alice Weidel. The same is true about many other issues.  

For example, if Gauland is directly attacked and insulted by the German mainstream media, with Alice Weidel the defamatory tactic of those so called “investigative journalists” is different: she is usually “tied” to this or that controversial figure inside the AfD and then pronounced “guilty by association.” For example, Spiegel tied her to Björn Höcke, the leader of what the magazine describes as “the far-right nationalist wing of the right-wing populist AfD party.

Alice Weidel, who heads the parliamentary group in the... Bundestag, and who is supposedly mainstream, has long since come to terms with the far-right wing and with Höcke. Behind the scenes, Weidel has even forged a non-aggression pact with Höcke... By doing so, party group leader Weidel is embarking on a dangerous path toward political extremism – one that AfD party leaders Jörg Meuthen and Alexander Gauland have already taken.

And this is just one example of the ‘guilt by association’ tactic used by the German media against alternative, non-mainstream parties – not only against the alternative right, but also against the alternative left.

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In fact, both the case of Ana Brnabic and the case of Alice Weidel reveal one important thing about the mainstream media, the real uncrowned queen of both the US and the EU: its majesty’s loyal servants, so prone to throwing around accusations of homophobia, neo-Nazism or pro-Russian conspiracy, very often have no idea about the real lives and convictions of the people that they attack.  

Brnabic and Weidel’s quiet, dignified alternative lifestyles remind us of the real European values, where tolerance is based not on aggressive accusations, but on respect for a person’s private life. Real European tolerance is based on giving priority to a person’s professional qualities and his or her dedication to work – not belonging to a privileged minority and the demagoguery associated with it. These are the kinds of values and kind of lifestyle which both Brnabic and Weidel stick to – clearly separating their personal lives from their professional activities and political convictions.

The Serb president, who, along with Brnabic, staunchly refuses to make a choice between Serbia’s European integration and Serbia’s friendship with Russia, found a nice way to respond to Brnabic’s ‘moral’ critics:

If the worst compromising material that you found on her is her sexual orientation, then she must be a person without any defects at all. Look how much she managed to do during her so far not very long life.” 

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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