Burma journal attacks 'criminal' homosexuality

Jan 22, 2010 (DVB), Homosexuality can cause mental illness and encourage sexual crimes, medical "experts" have warned in a front-page article in Burmese media today.

The article, published in the popular Bi-Weekly Eleven Journal, echoes a similar slur in the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper last month that suggested that HIV/AIDS stems from "socially unacceptable behavior".

A former psychology professor, Khin Aye Win, was quoted today as saying that children should be taught "not to engage in abnormal sexual activities and, to protect themselves from unwanted troubles and dangers".

"When they are capable of understanding things clearly, they can use their common sense to analyse the situation, even when persuaded by someone," she added.

The issue of homosexuality remains highly taboo in a country where colonial laws dictating that same-sex relations should be punishable by death have been not been erased, although the death sentence is seldom carried out.

The Bi-Weekly Eleven Journal states that with the rise of globalization, parents should be teaching their children about sexual activities and misconduct. It then suggests however a link between homosexuality and crime.

"In some cases, a man whose mind turned female tried to seduce other men and then ended up mugging and murdering them," the article said.

It also said that homosexuals "are usually found in crowded places, public toilets, teashops and at some restaurants".

Aung Myo Min, a prominent exiled Burmese anti-homophobia campaigner, said that the story "was dangerous, particularly because some of the comments came from a psychologist".

"They want to stereotype homosexuals as sexual abusers, especially against minors, but it's not homosexuals who commit these crimes; it could be anyone," he said.

"Homosexuality is not a mental disease; that's clearly stated by the WHO [World Health Organisation]," he added.

A report released by the UNAIDS programme in November last year found that roughly one-in-three gay men in Burma are HIV positive. The problem is compounded by the government's meager spending on healthcare; 2.3 percent of the total GDP, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) figures for 2006.

Reporting by Francis Wade

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