Contributor: Ye Linn
Until 2016, the LGBTIQ terminology was not well-known in Myanmar and most people used to sexually, physically, mentally and verbally discriminate against our diverse LGBTIQ community. Police in Myanmar would target and torture gay and transgendered people by using the Penal Code 377, Police Act 30D and 30C amongst others.
Equally painful is the fact that we, LGBTIQ people, were not aware that such behavior was a human rights violation and we had no confidence before to respond to this kind of LGBTIQ-based violence because we were all taught that being LGBTIQ was wrong.
I made so many suicide attempts and self -discriminated mentally or physically throughout my childhood because I was stereotyped as being a wronged person. I was also looking for possible ways to change my sexual orientation and I believe that other young LGBTIQ had the similar experience. There are so many LGBTIQ people who lack the confidence to come out as they are afraid of the possible negative implications.
Luckily times change and in 2016, during the democratic transition, the politics were more transparent, there was a better understanding of the LGBTIQ terminology which paved the way for a wider acceptance of LGBTIQ people in Myanmar and this gave a space to LGBTIQ activists and organizations to
develop the LGBTIQ community. LGBTIQ people could disclose their sexual orientation, were better accepted socially and we all expected to have a better and more peaceful future.
But on 1 February 2021, we all felt like we were going back in time because the military junta seized control, arrested the democratically elected leaders and blocked access to the internet and some social media platforms. Civilians from all walks of life came out to protest but the military junta used lethal violence by using tear gas, chemical water cannons, shooting with live ammunition and using brutal force to terrorize and arrest unarmed peaceful protestors.
The people of Myanmar want to bring back democracy in every single possible way and also the LGBTIQ community, especially the young LGBTIQ, came out to protest peacefully and tried to draw the attention of the international community to bring an end to the military rule.
People are in need of humanitarian assistance such as food and medical treatment. Many have lost their jobs and even their house. LGBTIQ people are subjected to sexual and physical harassment, and some members of the LGBTIQ community who are taking HIV medications have limited access to their medication in view of the violence and travel restrictions during this political crisis. COVID-19 has also exacerbated the overall situation and the role of NGOs in providing humanitarian assistance is limited.
The people of Myanmar have been urging the international community and the UN to intervene and we are grateful for the solidarity shown in the numerous condemnations of the February 2021 coup.
Nothing has changed so far and we call on the international community for the strongest diplomatic action to save the people of Myanmar.