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LGBT discrimination on the rise since 2021 military coup

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

In the last three years since the 2021 military coup, members of the LGBT community in Myanmar have faced attacks, arrest, torture and even sexual abuse at the hands of the authorities. 

The National Unity Government (NUG) Ministry of Human Rights stated in 2022 that 17 LGBT people were killed and two were critically injured since Feb. 1, 2021.

“People gathered to protest against the military coup because every citizen had lost their rights. But in the LGBT community, we’ve had to fight for every right to be who we are since birth,” said Myint Myint, a transgender woman. 

A new research report called “Rainbow Amid the Storm” documented that 50 percent of LGBT have no confidence in the legal system. Over 68 percent fear repercussions from their abusers.

Htet, an LGBT student at Yangon University, was arrested in Pyay in 2021. 

“A man whom [prison staff] called Lieutenant asked me to crawl on all fours and come to him, ordering me to shout in a male voice. Of course, I couldn’t change my tone of voice. But if I slipped up even a bit, he would sexually assault me,” said Htet.

Saw Han Nway Oo is a transgender woman. She was arrested by the military and taken to an interrogation center in 2021.

“My face was covered with a cloth. I was hit with a wire. My long nails were plucked and twisted with pliers. If I asked for water because I was thirsty, they would pour hot water on my face,” Saw Han Nway Oo told the BBC Burmese. 

The LGBT community in Myanmar has long faced discrimination. Section 377 of the Penal Code criminalizes homosexuality. 

“It’s a known fact that patriarchy dominates Myanmar. LGBT will never be looked at in a good way. Religious institutions and school taught us from a young age that it is a big mistake if a person is neither male nor female,” said Luis, a student from Yangon University.

“We were taught that LGBT must not be treated with any form of discrimination. But the teachers themselves, who are teaching these theories, exercise discrimination. When they enter the classroom, they ask if there are any gays present,” added Luis.  

The research report “Rainbow Amid the Storm” also documented that 53 percent of all discrimination happens within the family with the remaining occurring in the business, health care, politics and educational sectors.  

“When the gender orientation is different, whether it’s a man or woman physically, these people are subjected to discrimination, mockery, as well as violence. Legislation is needed now to ensure protections for LGBT people as we move toward equal rights in a [federal democratic union],” added Myint Myint. 

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