Voice for the LGBT: Will society in Myanmar embrace the community? 

31 December 2019
Voice for the LGBT: Will society in Myanmar embrace the community? 
Aung Myo Min, the director of Equality Myanmar. Photo: Aung Myo Min/Facebook

LGBT organizations in Myanmar have become more active in voicing support for the local LGBT community and organizing more public activities to bring public attention to the LGBT issue through empowerment, education and community. 

Empowering the LGBT community by educating people that homosexuality is not a crime, changing the society concept towards LGBT and strengthening the LGBT community are the three essential areas that the local LGBT organizations would like to focus on for the future, according to Aung Myo Min, the director of Equality Myanmar. 

“They do not fit in the box in society,” he commented on the difficulties faced by LGBT in Myanmar. 

He also said that LGBT cannot work in the Myanmar government, the education ministry and their professional ability will get challenged when they come out as gay. 

Certain homosexual acts are considered a crime, with people who violate section 377 of Myanmar Penal Code, going to prison from ten years to life, plus a fine.  

There is no record that this colonial law is still strictly enforced, according to The Myanmar Times. However, the existence of this law itself puts huge pressure on the LGBT community in Myanmar. 

However, Swe Zin Htet, Miss Universe Myanmar 2019, chose to admit she is a lesbian and became the first contest pageant queen to come out as gay.

She told the People Magazine that she hoped coming out as gay would have a positive impact on the LGBT community in Myanmar. 

She also confirmed with the organizing committee of the upcoming pride event that she would attend the event in January in order to support the LGBT community in Myanmar, according to Sai Shang Kham, an intern at &Proud, who is also offering assistance to the event organizers. 

“This year we will have more celebrities. We want the celebrity’s power to grow the campaign, to reach out to the people so the people will see it and be concerned about the LGBT issue,” he added.

In recent years, local LGBT organizations in Myanmar have been lobbying to revise the colonial law code 377 and make the government more aware about LGBT issues. 

Aside from demanding for legal reform, more public pride events have taken place in Myanmar, including the first gay pride festival in 2012, the first LGBT film festival in 2014, and the first gay pride party in 2018 to bring LGBT people together and educate the general public.

However, the LGBT still recognize they have a long way to go in a conservative society where many people consider them sick and sinners.