News Brief: Myanmar Hosts First Public LBGT Festival EVER

by Aaron Shepard
in News
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News Brief Myanmar Hosts First Public LBGT Festival EVER

News Brief Myanmar Hosts First Public LBGT Festival EVER

News Brief:  Myanmar Hosts First Public LBGT Festival EVER

Myanmar has hosted its first-ever public LGBT festival to “acknowledge equality and basic human rights.”  Nearly 6,000 people attended the first day of the &PROUD Festival at a park in Yangon in celebration of being LGBT and proud.  The event runs across two consecutive weekends and has activities such as a drag queen race, handbag throwing, and screenings of LGBT films.  It also has a “Human Library,” where LGBT people can tell their personal stories as part of the festivals aim to educate and entertain.

Despite homosexual relations still being illegal in the country, organizers were given permission to host it in a public space, unlike previous years.  The festival being made public is a big step in the right direction for equality in Myanmar. 

“I would say this is not just for the LGBT community.  This is for the whole country, acknowledging equality and basic human rights,” festival co-director Hla Myat Tun told Channel NewsAsia.

Over the last couple of years, political reforms have made Myanmar a more accepting environment to be gay, but there is a still homophobia and discrimination against the community.

According to Thaw Zin, an attendee of the festival: “Some people don’t know about LGBT people.”  He told Channel NewsAsia, “You get people who are LGBT but they don’t know what that is.  They don’t understand.  So that’s why it’s difficult for other people to understand as well.” 

The festival will be held again in a different part of the country this year to spread awareness and organizers are going to campaign to remove laws against LGBT people.