Fighting for LGBT rights in Myanmar with a ‘pink pinky’ – SE Asia

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LGBT activists in Myanmar who campaign to decriminalize same-sex relationships are urging thousands of people to paint their pinky pink fingers while trying to highlight the issue before the elections later this year.

Although space is being opened for the LGBT community in the conservative country, same-sex relations remain illegal, a legacy of Britain’s former colonial power.

At the launch of the “pink pinky” campaign on Wednesday, held before a Pride party in Yangon this weekend that is expected to attract more than 10,000 people, human rights groups called for the ban to be repealed and enact a law against discrimination.

At the head of the movement is the Miss Universe contestant from Myanmar, who came out publicly as a lesbian at the end of last year, the first to do so in the history of the event.

“We need legal protection, we need legal recognition and we need legal reform,” Hla Myat Tun, deputy director of the Colors Rainbow group, told AFP.

This year’s Pride is the sixth edition of the country and the largest so far, covering three weekends and multiple locations throughout the mall, and organizers call attendees to show support with their hands.

The country is likely to hold elections in November and activists have been working closely with their counterparts in India, where the country’s highest court overturned a similar law in 2018.

Hla Myat Tun said the victory also had huge ramifications for Myanmar. “What are the lessons, what things can we learn, what things can we apply here?”

Miss Universe beauty queen Swe Zin Htet will receive the “Pride Hero” Prize on Saturday for an outstanding contribution to the LGBT cause.

The 21-year-old said that leaving was not easy, but it was the right decision, and “so many people” offered her support.

Last year, a prominent suicide of a gay man attributed to workplace intimidation highlighted the long-marginalized community of Myanmar.

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