Burma, Asia

Burma's political system remains under the tight control of the SPDC, the military-led government, led since 1992 by Senior General Than Shwe. The military has dominated government since 1962. In November 2006, the International Labour Organization (ILO) announced it will be seeking - at the International Court of Justice - "to prosecute members of the ruling Myanmar junta for crimes against humanity" over the continuous forced labor of its citizens by the military. According to the ILO, an estimated 800,000 people are subject to forced labor in Myanmar. Homosexuality is illegal in Burma. The authoritarian nature of the government makes it difficult to obtain accurate information about the legal or social status of LGBT Burmese citizens. there are numerous laws that prohibit spreading a sexually transmitted disease, committing "a public nuisance, making, selling, or distributing "obscene" material, buying or selling a prostitute under the age of eighteen or anything that might affect the morality of an individual, society or the public in a negative way. The current political climate is such that no organized LGBT political or social life can exist. Burma's social mores about human sexuality have been described as being "extremely conservative."


News & Reports:


First openly gay election candidate in Myanmar: ‘I didn’t want to lie to get votes’

The first openly gay election candidate in Myanmar, Myo Min Tun, has vowed to fight police abuse of LGBT+ people if he wins. The 39-year-old entered politics after transgender friends told him the abuse they suffered. In one incident, officers forced them to take off their bras and kneel before touching them inappropriately. Myo Min… Read more »

Gay people in Myanmar have adopted a secret language

Their slang can help protect them from abuse Wednesday has just turned into Thursday in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, and pleasure-seekers are on the prowl in a glitzy neighbourhood. Drivers slow down to inspect sex workers waiting by the kerb. Three of them, all transgender women, chat brightly. Your correspondent tries to eavesdrop but even… Read more »

Miss Universe celebrates its first openly gay contestant

The Miss Universe beauty pageant has featured an openly gay contestant for the first time — and she hails from a country where homosexuality is criminalized. Twenty-year-old Swe Zin Htet competed as Miss Myanmar at the event on Sunday night in Atlanta, Georgia. Though she failed to advance to the top 20, fans say she… Read more »

Myanmar government urged to scrap colonial-era law on gay sex

Myanmar one of more than 40 countries where laws introduced by British entrench discrimination against LGBT people. Yangon, Myanmar – Khin Maung Htun, a gay man in Myanmar, was standing on the street one night last year scrolling through his phone when police showed up to arrest some men who had been fighting nearby. The… Read more »

Falling in love at a Myanmar high school

Inspired by real events, A Blue-sky explores sexuality and gender identity as a young person in a country where gay sex is illegal A movie exploring sexuality and gender at a Myanmar high school stunned audiences when it was screened at Myanmar’s LGBTI film festival last week. A Blue-sky, directed by Hein Htwe Maung, follows… Read more »

Myanmar is arresting people for being gay under colonial-era sodomy law

Two people have recently been charged under Section 377, a law advocates say was rarely enforced At least two recent arrests of LGBTI Myanmar citizens using the country’s anti-gay law has shaken the community. Police have reportedly charged a local restaurant owner and a make-up artist, who both reportedly identify as gay, in the last… Read more »

Gay man with HIV charged under Myanmar sodomy law

Yangon, Myanmar — The LGBTI community in Myanmar has demand fair media coverage of a gay man with HIV who is charged under the controversial Penal Code 377 for allegedly committing sexual abuse against one of his employees. The accused, Aung Myo Htut, aka Addy Chen, is an outspoken LGBTI rights advocates and commonly known… Read more »

Male-to-Male Sex in Myanmar: A Curse Engendered by Poverty

Shadows in the night-time glow of Yangon’s magnificent, gold leaf-encrusted Sule Pagoda, several men stroll the Sule Bridge. One is Kyaw Zayar Swe, dressed in jeans with two shining studs in his right ear rather than the traditional longyi. He makes small talk with an old customer. A tourist next to the two, taking photos… Read more »

Gay and Undocumented, Burmese Refugees Struggle in Thailand

“Queer migrants” or LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex) refugees from Myanmar – called as such because they had to leave their countries and go somewhere else to be able to live safely as themselves – have looked at Thailand as the ideal destination, with its louche, gay-friendly lifestyle. But in too many… Read more »

The brutal reality transgender women face under Myanmar’s ‘darkness law’

Editors’ Note: This story describes situations that could be upsetting for some readers. Yangon, Myanmar — A transgender sex worker in Myanmar’s main city of Yangon was waiting for customers on a dark street one night last year when two police officers approached her and demanded she have sex with them for free. When she… Read more »

Gay people in Burma live secret lives. Will Aung San Suu Kyi liberate them?

“I know some people like ‘they’, but I don’t mind. You can use ‘he’ or ‘she’,” Htike Myat Kalyar Khin Khin Win says earnestly in English, showing an impressive grip of foreign pronouns, when I ask how she wants to be referred to in this article. Htike Myat is a 23-year-old transgender Burmese entrepreneur, with… Read more »

LGBT rights: ‘A struggle within the struggle’

Aung Myo Min is a human rights activist and former Aall Burma Students’ Democratic Front member, which he left because the student army couldn’t accept his homosexuality. Today he fights for the recognition of LGBT people rights and is also the founder of Equality Myanmar. He was at the the &PROUD Film Festival last week,… Read more »

Queer Southeast Asia: Recognition, Respect & Legitimacy

Over the past few decades, diverse new cultures and communities based on same-sex preference and transgender identity have become increasingly prominent in all the countries of Southeast Asia. Across the cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity of region, and despite the distinctive colonial and semicolonial political histories of the modern states of Southeast Asia (see Jackson… Read more »

Fighting HIV Among MSM and Transgender Individuals in Myanmar

In March 2011, Myanmar’s 50-year old military junta officially ended the world’s longest-running military dictatorship and opened the nation’s previously impermeable borders to international economic and political groups—from Coca-Cola® to the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). In November 2015, as Nobel Peace laureate and democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party… Read more »

Treating More HIV Patients in More Places: Myanmar’s Next Challenge

Between 2011 and 2014, Myanmar more than doubled the number of people living with HIV who are on long-term antiretroviral-therapy (ART), the gold standard for HIV treatment. This is fantastic news. Furthermore, while Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to be one of the biggest providers of HIV care in Myanmar, currently treating 35,000 patients across… Read more »

Gay People In Myanmar Can’t Live Openly. Here’s Why

Like several other former British colonies, the country retains a colonial-era law that criminalizes homosexuality. This is the seventh part of a 10-part series on LGBT rights in Southeast Asia, which uncovers the challenges facing the LGBT community in the region and highlights the courageous work of activists there. *** When a group of transgender… Read more »

Briton jailed in Burma for ‘insulting’ Buddha image named prisoner of conscience by Amnesty

Philip Blackwood’s family steps up pressure for release of bar manager as he is treated for depression in notorious Rangoon prison A British bar manager jailed in a notorious Rangoon prison for insulting Buddhism is to be named as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International as his family and human rights activists campaign for… Read more »

Myanmar election: Suu Kyi vows to lead government

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has vowed to lead the country if her National League for Democracy comes to power in the upcoming election. This is despite the fact that she is constitutionally barred from the presidency because she married and had children with a foreign citizen. The historic poll on 8 November… Read more »

Queer Southeast Asia: Recognition, Respect & Legitimacy

Over the past few decades, diverse new cultures and communities based on same-sex preference and transgender identity have become increasingly prominent in all the countries of Southeast Asia. Across the cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity of region, and despite the distinctive colonial and semicolonial political histories of the modern states of Southeast Asia (see Jackson… Read more »

LGBT Network Calls for Tolerance, End to Harassment

Mandalay — Burma’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Rights Network on Friday called on lawmakers to stop targeting and harassing the LGBT community, urging authorities to instead set their sights on strengthening the rule of law. Speaking to reporters in Burma’s second largest city, representatives of the network said they were alarmed by recent… Read more »

Burma: First LGBT film festival to be held in the country’s largest city

Burma’s first LGBT film festival is to be held next month in the former capital city of Rangoon. According to Irrawaddy, the &Proud LGBT Film Festival will be held from 12-14 November at the French Institute. The festival’s aim is to celebrate the sexual and gender diversity of the region. Colors Rainbow program officer Hla… Read more »

Breaking down barriers to better HIV education, treatment in Myanmar

A joint Australian-Myanmar team is working with police in Myanmar to educate the force about socially-marginalised groups such as men who have sex with men. Despite the recent momentous changes that have occurred in Mynamar, some police still treat such groups with suspicion and interfere with efforts to bring education, treatment and testing to them.… Read more »

New HIV Infections Have Fallen in Burma: UN Report

The number of people contracting HIV in Burma decreased between 2000 and 2013, according to a new UN report, which also said there are still 189,000 people in the country living with the virus. The Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) “Gap report”—which was published Wednesday to highlight the global inequity of… Read more »

Myanmar Holds First Public Gay Wedding

A gay couple together 10 years tied the knot Sunday in conservative Myanmar. Tin Ko Ko and Myo Min Htet exchanged rings in a Yangon hotel in front of hundreds of friends and family. While their ceremony is a sign of growing acceptance of gay rights in the Southeast Asian nation, their wedding was merely… Read more »

Activists at the ASEAN People’s Forum call for the protection of LGBT rights in Southeast Asia

ASEAN SOGIE Caucus have been at the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Civil Society Conference and the ASEAN People’s Forum in Yangon, Myanmar. The group has been lobbying the 10 member states to make provisions for LGBT rights. The ASEAN Civil Society Conference and the ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) takes place ahead of the… Read more »

The battle for gay rights in Burma

Loud dance music, strobe lights, vodka shots and cocktails: the fare at Rangoon’s Flamingo Club doesn’t stand out from what’s on offer at any number of nightlife spots around the city. But on the last Saturday of the month, things are slightly different. As of this month, FAB, the “the first party for lesbians, gays… Read more »

Myanmar’s HIV/AIDS Program: Cautious Optimism

Overwhelming Problems Remain Efforts are under way in Myanmar to bolster access to life-prolonging drugs for people with HIV/AIDS, but tens of thousands will probably still be left out, say health experts. “All the ingredients are there to make this work, but a comprehensive and integrated plan concerning all actors and activities is needed to… Read more »

Gays in Burma allege sexual abuse by police

12 gays and transgender individuals were detained for hours, stripped off and humiliated Gays and transgender individuals detained in a weekend crackdown by police officers in Burma’s second-biggest city have accused them of sexual abuse. From an area in Mandalay frequented by sexual minorities, law officers arrested 12 people last Saturday night, three of whom… Read more »

Myanmar: Gay Men and Transgender Women

Wrongfully Arrested, Violently Abused – IGLHRC and Myanmar LGBT Rights Network Call for Justice Dear Friend, On July 7, 20 plain-clothed police officers forcefully arrested 10 gay men and transgender women outside the Sedona Hotel in Mandalay, Myanmar. Nine were dragged, kicked and handcuffed while being taken to the Division Police Station for questioning—one person… Read more »

Study reveals discrimination against LGBT people in Burma

Police use law that criminalizes gay sex to abuse and blackmail LGBT people Research from human rights activists in Burma has revealed the extent of discrimination against LGBT people in the Southeast Asian country. Human Rights Education Institute Burma (HREIB) carried out focus groups and individual interviews with 24 LGBT people from five different cities.… Read more »

Changing attitudes towards men who have sex with men and transgender people in Myanmar

When Thet Mon Phyo underwent a gender change operation in 2005, her parents told her not to bother returning home. “They were ashamed and I had to go and live with my aunt,” 34-year-old Phyo recalled. “When I was young my father often scolded me for my feminine behaviour. Later, my lover left me because… Read more »

Burma author restores gay love novel after censors lift ban

Relaxed censorship laws in Myanmar allow award-winning writer Nu Nu Yi to re-release celebrated novel with deleted gay plots An acclaimed author in Burma is planning to re-release one of her novels to include gay love plot previously purged by the country’s oppressive regime. Nu Nu Yi’s novel ‘Smile as They Bow’ was heavily censored… Read more »

Parallel Battles for Burma and Asean’s Human Rights Commission

The Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) will meet in Rangoon starting this Sunday to finalize the draft of the long-awaited Asean Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). Held in a country that has for the past year made headlines in the international media for its reforms, this event might be seen by some as evidence… Read more »

In Myanmar, Stigma and Neglect Add to HIV Misery

Yangon (Reuters) – The mother and child who touch hands in an overcrowded Yangon hospice are not family, but their tragic history begins in the blood. Jam, 42, a mother of six, and Kanama, aged 2, are both HIV positive. Abandoned by their families, they must now find comfort in each other, although Jam still… Read more »

Myanmar holds first gay pride celebrations

Yangon (AFP)- Myanmar held its first gay pride celebrations Thursday, organisers said, in a sign of liberalising social attitudes paralleling political reforms in the formerly army-ruled nation. Around 400 people packed into the ballroom of a Yangon hotel late Thursday for an evening of performances, speeches and music to mark the International Day against Homophobia… Read more »

A pride with no parade for Burma’s first gay festival

Hundreds of people in Burma have attended the country’s first public gay pride event. The festival reflects a new climate of political reform that has led to the election of a civilian government, ending 50 years of military rule. Gay relationships are still a crime in Burma, but the law is not strictly enforced. However… Read more »

Burma prepares for first ever public LGBT rights celebration

‘Our message is just to end homophobia – this is not a political issue’ says IDAHO Burma organiser Rangoon and Mandalay, the two largest cities in Burma, will host public LGBT rights events for the first time on Thursday. ‘This year there have been some changes in Burma,’ one of the organisers of the events,… Read more »

Gay people in Burma start to challenge culture of repression

Clubs, magazines and even an LGBT-oriented TV show are building momentum against institutionalised prejudice The nightclub is heaving, sweaty and loud, pulsating with blinding blue and white lights, and packed with drunken dancers. At the bar, the young sons of Burma’s elite are buying bottles of Jack Daniel’s and Johnnie Walker with thick wads of… Read more »

Burmese rights group to broadcast LBGT news online

A Chiang Mai-based LGBT rights group that serves the Burmese LGBT community and began Rainbow TV programs in late 2011 says it will continue to broadcast television programs on a monthly basis. The following was first published by the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma on Feb 19, 2012: In 2012, the Colours Rainbow group… Read more »

Gay Burma News & Reports 2003-11

1 Nat Kadaws–Gay Men Married to Spirits 2 Bloggers Who Risked All to Reveal the Junta’s Brutal Crackdowna 10/07 3 Former Myanmar Political Prisoners – Torture, Including Gay Rape 10/07 4 Gay in Rangoon 11/07 5 Myanmar Seizes U.N. Food for Cyclone Victims – Blocks Foreign Experts 5/08 6 Myanmar Frees Political Prisoner 9/08 non-gay… Read more »