LGBT rights in Burma

LGBT rights in Burma

Homosexuality is illegal in Burma. The authoritarian nature of the government makes it difficult to obtain accurate information about the legal or social status of LGBT Burmese citizens.

Criminal Code

Section 377 of the penal code prohibits homosexuality. Along with fines, the punishment is ten years to life. In 2001, the exile group called the All Burma Students' Democratic Front voted to have the law repealed. This was seen as a victory by the Committee for Lesbigay Rights in Burma, although such a change is not likely to occur given the current political climate. []

The following sections of the penal code can also be used against LGBT people in Burma: []

*Sections 269 & 270 make it a crime for a person to negligently spread a sexually transmitted disease.

*Section 290 makes it a crime to commit "a public nuisance", not specified in the code, with fines up to two hundred rupees.

*Sections 292 - 294 make it a crime to make, sell, or distribute "obscene" material or songs to adults or minors and to engage in any obscene acts in public.

*Section 372 prohibits buying or selling a prostitute under the age of eighteen or using a prostitute to engage in illicit sexual relations.

*Section 469 prohibits engaging in any marriage ceremony absent of a legal marriage.

*Section 5(j) of the Emergency Provisions Act prohibits anything that might affect the morality of an individual, society or the public in a negative way. []

In 2005, a study conducted on the nation's Internet filtering polices showed that the government had blocked access to Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. []

Marriage and Family

Burma does not recognize a same-sex marriage or civil union performed in another nation, nor does it permit such legal recognition internally.

Society & Culture

The current political climate is such that no organized LGBT political or social life can exist. Burma's social mores about human sexuality have been described as being "extremely conservative." [] . Aside from the political climate, this is a result of the fact that most people are members of the Theravada school of Buddhism, with a minority of Baptists and Muslims.

Aung Myo Min is an openly gay man and has been involved in the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF). In 2005 he talked about his coming out process and the homophobia that exists, even with the pro-democracy opposition. [] . Today he is involved with exile Burma human rights organizations, including the Campaign for Lesbigay Rights in Burma.

In 2003, FocusAsia (Star TV) aired a story about the Nat Kedaws. The "Utopia Guide to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar & Vietnam" references "transgender shaman channeling spirits at Myanmar sacred festivals." [] Yet, within Burma itself, no formal gay bars or LGBT-rights organizations exist. There are only some unconfirmed reports that certain nightclubs in the cities that are a reputation for both heterosexual and LGBT clientele. [] .

Some gay American journalists have traveled to Burma and made attempts to interview local people about their beliefs about homosexuality, with limited results. The Burmese government seemed to discourage people talking with foreign journalists, especially about politics. []


External links

* [ Burma Lawyers Council]
* [ Sodomy Laws: Burma/Myanmar]

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