This Thursday, Burma will hold its first-ever public LGBT Pride. The celebrations are scheduled as part of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
The upcoming Pride has attracted UN officials, artists, writers and LGBT people from the entertainment industry, who will discuss LGBT rights around the world. The guest speakers will also share their own experiences facing the violence that stems from homophobia and transphobia.
Aung Myo Min, one of the Burma Pride organizers, told Gay Star News that LGBT people in Burma regularly encounter “silent homophobia” even as anti-gay policies have been relaxed in recent years.
“We’re not going out on the street for a parade,” Min said. “It will be an indoor event because of the situation in Burma. But we hope that we will have a gay parade in the future.”
Min’s group, the Human Rights Education Institute Burma (HREIB), has organized three previous IDAHOT events on May 17 for Burmese nationals living in Thailand. This year, HREIB is hosting dual celebrations in Rangoon and Mandalay, the two largest cities in Burma.
“This year there have been some changes in Burma,” Min said. For the celebration in Mandalay, HREIB received permission from local authorities.
Asked if he is concerned about conservative backlash, Min insists that the Pride events will not be political. “This is just a celebration of a historic event, when homosexuality was removed from the list of mental diseases,” he told Gay Star News. “It’s just about the dignity of the LGBT people.”
“Our message is just to end homophobia,” he added.
A poster designed by HREIB to commemorate IDAHOT 2012 reads, “Homosexuality is not a sickness, but homophobia is.”
Together, we can end anti-LGBT discrimination and violence. The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is this Thursday, May 17. Stay tuned to Care2 Causes LGBT Rights channel for a week of special features including LGBT history, personal stories from around the globe, reader comments and more!
Photo credit: Guillaume Paumier (Creative Commons Attribution License)