Monday, February 21, 2011

Burmese, Thai activists March for gay, lesbian rights

Monday, 21 February 2011 20:31 Kyaw Kha

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – About 500 Burmese and Thai homosexual activists staged a protest against discrimination against gays and lesbians in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on Sunday.

Gay, lesbian and transgender people from Burma and
Thailand demonstrated for their human rights on
Sunday in Chiang Mai, Thailand. (Photo: Mizzima)
The demonstration, organised by Thai and Burmese human rights organisations, HIV care organisations and homosexual rights advocacy groups included gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people who demonstrated in the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar area.

Homosexual activists have staged protest demonstrations in Chiang Mai since 2007.

Khun Narumon Parawat, the deputy mayor of Chiang Mai, opened the demonstration, and Christian priests and Buddhist monks delivered speeches against discrimination.

A Burmese lesbian who participated in the demonstration told Mizzima, ‘We hope people will understand that we are also human beings,  and that we have rights too’.

Aung Myo Min, the director of the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, said that there was  widespread discrimination against homosexuals in Burma, and people there also did not have the right to freedom of expression’.

The demonstration included a gathering of about
500 people, including area politicians, Buddhist
monks and Christian priests. (Photo : Mizzima)
‘In Burma, five people are not allowed to gather to stage a protest, so the situation in Burma is different. And the junta has an extreme fear of the word “rights”, so they will never allow the public to protest’, he said.

Activists said that the Burmese community has become more understanding of the rights of homosexuals in recent years. In the past, The All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) classified homosexuality as a crime. In 1997, the ABSDF revoked that classification. Similarly, the Burmese Women’s Union now allows all women, including lesbians, to apply for membership.

On February 21, 2009, a ‘Redshirt’ rally in Chiang Mai bitterly opposed the homosexual demonstration and threatened demonstrators, saying they lowered the dignity of Chiang Mai. Gay demonstrators had to be protected by Thai authorities.

In response to that anti-homosexual protest, Burmese activists cooperated with Thai activists to stage this week’s demonstration.

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