Please note-

*Please note- Your browser preferences must be set to 'allow 3rd party cookies' in order to comment in our diaries.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Burmese March in Chiang Mai Gay Rights Parade


Participants in the gay rights peace walk that took place in Chiang Mai, Thailand on February 21, 2011

Thai and Burmese societies have become more accepting of gay people and understanding of their identity, but there is still work to do to achieve equal rights, said Thai and Burmese activists who took part in a peace walk in Chiang Mai, Thailand on Sunday to promote gay rights and non-violence towards members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community. 
About 250 people participated in the walk, which was opened by the vice-governor of Chiang Mai and took place without incident. It started at 5:15 p.m. and finished at 6:00 p.m. The participants marched from the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar to the Buddha Satan Temple, where traditional dancing, marching and the lighting of symbolic peace candles took place.
Aung Myo Min, the director of the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB) and a gay member of the LGBT community, gave a speech in which he said that members of the LGBT community are not the problem of society, they are part of society.
Mr. Pongthorn Chanlearn, who is the project coordinator of the Mplus project and a gay rights activist, told The Irrawaddy that when they held a gay rights parade in Chiang Mai on February 21, 2008, they were attacked by Redshirt groups, which are members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD). He said the groups accused gay people participating in the parade of destroying the local culture.
“We respect and are aware of the local culture,” Chanlearn said. “We just want to promote LGBT rights and reduce discrimination against the LGBT community. We want to align our identity between the culture and our rights.”
Although gay people were not seriously injured physically in 2008, they were injured psychologically, Chanlearn said. He added that the people of Chiang Mai are not usually violent and are quite hospitable. That is why LGBT groups were able to successfully organize the peace walk event this year.
According to the Mplus project, there are about 30,000 registered LGBT people in Chiang Mai.
Yuri, another activist who promotes LGBT rights, said that LGBT people are also human beings and the society needs to treat them as human.
“We showed by the peace walk that LGBT people also want peace just as much as other people. These kind of events are very helpful in persuading other people to understand LGBTs,” Yuri added. “But it will take time to get people to understand us. We have to do it step by step, without any rush.”
Aung Myo Min said that it is also quite difficult to achieve LGBT rights within the Burmese exile community.
Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday, he said, “We are struggling and we still have to try much harder to obtain equality for LGBT people. We can say that it is a struggle within a struggle. It means that the LGBT rights activists are struggling even in the communities which promote democracy and human rights for Burma in order to fulfill LGBT rights.”
In the past, although LGBT people did have a place in the Burmese community, they were just considered an amusing oddity, Aung Myo Min added.


No comments:

Post a Comment