Myanmar’s LGBTQIA+ community just had their maiden voyage on the first-ever Pride Boat Parade held in Asia last Saturday, 26th January.
More than 600 participants set sail off a river in Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, as part of the Yangon Pride parade. This is the 5th LGBTQIA+ festival organized by &Proud, a non-profit organization based in the city.
The theme for this year’s festival is “Heroes”, which recognizes citizens who have made contributions to the LGBTQIA+ community in Myanmar. The festival will also feature a drag queen Olympics, films, performances and panel discussions.
The theme also ties in with how Okkar Min Maung, a famous Burmese actor, came out as gay to the public on 26th June 2018.
Yangon Pride will take place from 26th January to 3rd February.
“YAAASSSSS QUEEN WE STAN!!!”
Myanmar, a former British colony much like Singapore, inherited 377A of the penal code – a law that continues to criminalise sex between two consenting men. The law continues to criminalize sex between two consenting men.
Although not actively enforced, policies such as the “Darkness Law”, allows the police to arrest individuals for “acting suspiciously” or being in a “suspicious place”. This is used regularly against transgender sex workers.
Myanmar remains a deeply conservative country, with 88% of the populace being Theravada Buddhists, a religion not incompatible with the existence of LGBTQIA+ people.
Through Yangon Pride, the LGBTQIA+ community in Myanmar hopes to increase awareness, while resisting against systemic discrimination.