Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Myanmar Holds First Public LGBT Pride Festival

AFP/Getty Images
The (unfortunately named) Straits Times reports:

Fluorescent wigs askew and leaving broken stiletto heels and a cloud of glitter in their wake, Myanmar drag queens pounded across the finish line and crashed into a waiting coterie of photographers at a groundbreaking festival.

The race and other games including handbag throwing were some of the highlights of the "&Proud" festival, which took place in public for the first time in a country where same-sex relations are still officially illegal.

"Some people don't know about LGBT people," said 20-year-old Thaw Zin, who attended the weekend event at a Yangon park sporting a bright pink T-shirt, dyed strawberry blond hair and blue contact lenses.

"You get people who are LGBT but they don't know what that is. They don't understand. So that's why it's difficult for other people to understand as well."

Myanmar's notorious Section 377, a remnant of British rule, criminalises so-called "unnatural" sex and has been used to target LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people in the socially conservative nation.

Political reforms have broadened the space for free expression and civil society, but rights groups decry entrenched homophobic attitudes and widespread discrimination against the community.

Organisers said they were therefore amazed to receive the green light to hold the festival in public rather than the more discreet garden of the French Institute as they had in the past.

The widening acceptance boosted numbers with some 6,000 people coming along on the first day alone, compared with 2000 to 3,000 over the whole festival in previous years.

"I would say this is not just for the LGBT community. This is for the whole country, acknowledging equality and basic human rights," said 33-year-old festival co-director Hla Myat Tun.

The aim of the event, which runs over two consecutive weekends, is to educate as well as to entertain.

See full story here.

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

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