LGBT Groups Call for Burma’s Penal Code to Be Amended
BURMA

LGBT Groups Call for Burma’s Penal Code to Be Amended

A campaign poster from the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma says, “Same-sex relationships are not a disease. Hating same-sex relationships is a disease.” (Photo: HREIB)

A campaign poster from the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma says, “Same-sex relationships are not a disease. Hating same-sex relationships is a disease.” (Photo: HREIB)

RANGOON — A lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LGBT) rights group is calling for the Burma government to abolish an article in its 19th century penal code that outlaws same-sex relationships, activists said.

The penal code, which was first brought in under British colonial rule, still includes Article 377, under which “intercourse against the order of nature” carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years. The article is used to punish same-sex couples and effectively rules out same-sex couples living openly in Burma.

The Rangoon-based LBGT Rights Network—an alliance of 19 civil society organizations—said it is going to lobby the government to scrap the article, which it says is discriminatory.

“We do not have equal rights here. We need it,” said Tin Ko Ko, a member of the LGBT Rights Network.

Aung Myo Min, an activist from the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB), argued that sex between two people was not unnatural, and rejected gay sex being grouped with acts like people having sex with animals.

“All people have their own rights. They have right to get married to whoever they want,” he said. “Men can marry men, women can marry women. This is their private right.”

Research by HREIB, published in January, found that LGBT people living in Burma are regularly victimized by authorities or discriminated against by officials or other members of the public. Following a police crackdown on LGBT people in Mandalay in July, some of the 12 detained alleged that they were subjected to humiliating sexual abuse at the police station.

Although the law in Burma does not allow people to marry others of the same sex, a man and a transgender woman in Moulmein, Mon State, held a marriage ceremony on Nov. 18, according to a report in the Burmese-language Myanmar Post this week. But the act drew harsh criticism and threats in the local community and even from authorities.

A statement issued by the LGBT Rights Network last week condemned police in Moulmein for infringing on the couple’s rights, pointing to Article 347 of Burma 2008 Constitution, which guarantees that all citizens’ security is protected.

Parliamentarian Thein Nyunt, from the New National Democracy Party, said same-sex marriage was not acceptable to Burmese culture.

“To talk about human rights, it’s OK to have these rights. But, for me, I do not support having same-sex marriage, because it is not suitable of our Burmese culture.”

Despite the threat of the law, and conservative attitudes among many in Burma, the gay community has started edging toward visibility since Burma began opening up after political and economic reforms beginning two years ago.

In 2011, the previously Thailand-based TV show, “Colours Rainbow TV”—which airs once a month online and focuses on LGBT issues—moved its production to Rangoon.


WSJ LIVE VIDEO:

6 Responses to LGBT Groups Call for Burma’s Penal Code to Be Amended

  1. Is it Same-sex marriage is anything to do with the culture? Do you know what is the culture is? They don’t harm the culture they don’t harm the society then why you want to put the fire on them simply because you cannot accept and put under the name of culture?

    “”To talk about human rights, it’s OK to have these rights. But, for me, I do not support having same-sex marriage, because it is not suitable of our Burmese culture.” “”

  2. What Virathu has to say about this. I bet he for the gay rights, and perhaps he will go out in the country to get signatures to make same sex marriage legal, because he himself is Gay. Under his buddism it is not right for a Buddist woman to marry a Muslim man, but it is all right to marry with the same sex, My question to Virathu is would u bless the marriage between a gay Muslim and a gay Buddist?

  3. Yes the Myanmar needs a bit of “Castor District” from San Francisco or at least some education from here. Whatever happened to the Buddhist teaching of tolerance? Gone down the Irrawaddy I guess!

  4. Suppose people had the right to marry whoever they choose. In the U.S., the cultural shift has brought about also legal enforcement on institutions and private citizens to recognize that right. Recently, a private business had been sued, who didn’t want to perform the wedding video(or photo)-graphy for a same sex couple and who had suggested to them to find another business down the street. Their state supreme court (New Mexico) decided that any private business cannot be discriminatory based on their private, religious, views, to remain in public business. In the West, the question has become, whether those who advocates for the same sex marriage do have the right to force on others to accept what they do in their lives.

    Was their refusal of service, discriminatory against the rights of the same sex couple? The business owner was not the only photography on the street, let alone in the town. Does a nation change its historic laws to accommodate one in discrimination of others?

    Ultimately, we can ask questions on where do these individual rights and institutional rights (such as marriage) come from. On, what constitutes the moral fabrics of a land?

  5. Congratulations to all of those involved in the LGBT Rights Network for being brave enough to stand up for their rights. You know who you are.

  6. I don’t see it as a problem.I t would be fun to see gays` Parade day in Burma soon…June 1 ,I guess.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>