“Our message is just to end homophobia – this is not a political issue,” said an anonymous International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) Burma organizer.
“This year there have been some changes in Burma,” another organizer, Aung Myo Min from Human Rights Education Institute Burma (HREIB), told Gay Star News. “Whether the change is cosmetic or true, it’s better to test the water.”
Since 2010 in Burma there have been some momentous shifts away from years of political repression. Pro-gay rights events are the latest, even if they will be held indoors.
“We’re not going to [go] out on the street for a parade,” said Aung Myo Min. “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.”
HREIB have held events for IDAHO on May 17 for the last three years for Burmese nationals in Thailand. This year they decided to hold them in Burma.
The organisers have permission from the local authorities for the event in Mandalay and they are inviting UN officials, NGOs, artists, and writers. Writer Atta Kyaw will talk about LGBT rights and LGBT people in the entertainment industry will talk about their experiences of violence and harassment.
Aung Myo Min said violence against LGBT people is not as bad in Burma as it is in other places such as Africa and in the West but there is “silent homophobia.”
“We published our poster on Facebook,” said Aung Myo Min. “We had hundreds of comments. Some are very supportive but some are very homophobic. We still have a long way to go.”