Of Unnatural Offences; LGBT Rights in Myanmar

On Dec 15, 2016 Engage Media reported: The Myanmar Penal Code a British colonial law still in place in Myanmar outlaws same-sex relations and causes discrimination and oppression for LGBT community.

The Myanmar Penal Code of 1860 states;

Of Unnatural Offences

377. Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with transportation for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Policy written in colonies during occupation are inherently structured on the cultural and political norms of the coloniser. Within this environment intercourse against ‘the order of nature’ or ‘unnatural sex’ is usually interpreted by authorities to mean sodomy or same-sex activities that cannot result in procreation. The lineage of such ideologies can be traced back to ideas of religious sinful practice in Europe. Countries previously held by Britain including Myanmar, India, Malaysia and Singapore still hold these colonial era laws in place.

In Myanmar today this law is rarely enforced but because of its existence LGBT people are seen as criminals and are frequent victims of discrimination, violence, oppression and in some cases extortion.

Hla Myat Tun from Colors Rainbow, a LGBT advocacy organisation stated of Myanmar police, “They see them as a walking ATM. If they need to fill their quota, they arrest transgender sex workers, or gay guys. They harass them, they arrest them, even gang-rape them in the police compound” (The Guardian).

Read more at: Of Unnatural Offences; LGBT Rights in Myanmar — EngageMedia

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