Myanmar LGBT Rights Network Joins Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Calling for the Decriminalization of Homosexuality in Myanmar

Myanmar LGBT Rights Network

Myanmar LGBT Rights Network Joins Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Calling for the Decriminalization of Homosexuality in Myanmar

22 November 2013

Myanmar LGBT Rights Network warmly welcomes Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s recent comments calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Myanmar. This would be a significant step towards respecting the human rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community and ending deeply engrained homophobic social attitudes and discrimination against LGBT people in Myanmar.

Speaking at the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific this week, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi went on to say that the criminalization of homosexuality was hampering efforts to treat HIV among gay men in the country. HIV infection rates are the highest among sex workers and gay men, largely due to the stigma of being identified as such. Homosexuality is currently criminalized in Section 377 of the Penal Code. This anti-sodomy law enshrines harmful social discrimination and has led to the repression of sexual orientation and gender identity in the LGBT community. Furthermore, Section 377 legally sanctions the punishment of homosexuality and contributes to a culture of impunity for law enforcement officials who perpetrate discriminatory and abusive acts against LGBT people, like name-calling and ridiculing, as well as torture, physical violence, bribery, and exhortation.

This pattern of discrimination and abuse was highlighted in the recent case on 6 and 7 July 2013 in which twelve gay and transgender people were arrested in Mandalay and subjected to verbal, physical, and sexual abuse by police officials. Their arrest and mistreatment were in clear violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as clause 347 and clause 353 of the 2008 Constitution, which respectively state that the Union shall guarantee any person to enjoy equal rights before the law and shall equally provide legal protection; and nothing shall, except in accord with existing laws, be detrimental to the life and personal freedom of any person.

The LGBT community currently has no access to remedy or legal protection from such human rights violations. As such, the government of Myanmar should immediately ratify international treaties such as the Convention Against Torture, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civic and Political Rights, which would help protect the human rights of the LGBT community as well as all people of Myanmar. The government should also incorporate equal protection measures on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation into the 2008 Constitution and other legislation, and remove Section 377 of the Penal Code. The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission must also receive complaints and give special attention to those cases involving human rights violations against LGBT individuals.

Please contact U Aung Myo Min (, Hla Myat (0973022564), Tin Ko Ko (09420010409), Kyaw Min Htun (09420312204) for more details.

Myanmar LGBT Rights network