LGBT Community Faces Challenges in Traditional Burmese Culture

In Burma, being LGBT is still not accepted in society. Hopefully, while the LGBT community gains visibility and support throughout the world, the attitudes in Burma will also begin to change little by little. Burmese LGBT groups express their hope that one day they will not have to hide in the shadows anymore.

Gender oppression and LGBT discrimination are widespread issues in Burmese culture. 50 years of military rule suppressed any attempts to address the subjugation of LGBT and women. Currently, LGBT groups cannot operate in public for fear of arrest and abuse. Under Section 377 of the Burmese Penal Code, same- sex behavior is criminalized with a punishment of up to 10 years in prison. The law also allows for the harassment and intimidation of suspected offenders. LGBT groups have only recently begun to form in Burma. One such group, Colours
Rainbow, produces monthly TV episodes on LGBT issues which are broadcast online. The episodes cover the activities of LGBT groups, interviews, and LGBT news in Burma and around the world.

The organization estimates that the episodes have a viewership of around 3,000 people in Burma, but the availability is limited—only 25 percent of Burmese have access to electricity, and a similarly small number have internet access. The organization also has a magazine called Colours Rainbow which it publishes once every three months and distributes for free throughout Burma.

Oppression against LGBT in Burma has produced a public health and human rights
crisis. UNAIDS states that 240,000 people in Burma, or 0.6 percent of the population, are infected with HIV/AIDS. Of those, less than 20 percent have received proper medical treatment. This is partly due to the Burmese government's blocking of international aid efforts.

Compared with Thailand, Burma is particularly conservative on the concept of gender. A common belief in Burma is that being gay is a result of bad karma from sins committed in a past life. Some gay youth are sent to monasteries to "correct" their sexual orientation, while lesbians face a risk of being raped as a "corrective remedy."

Pubblicato da Lorenzo Bernini