Rainbow ‘Revolution’: Myanmar’s LGBTQ Activists March Against Coup

Feb 19, 2021 | 360, GOV, Myanmar, NEWS

by AFP

Myanmar’s LGBTQ community have been making tentative attempts in recent years to step out into the open

Strutting across a road junction in Myanmar traditional dress and wielding colourful paper parasols, Yangon’s LGBTQ activists are stepping up to be part of a “revolution” against the military.

Their vibrant presence adds to the wide cross-section of Myanmar society — from railway workers wearing hardhats to teachers dressed in their green-and-white uniforms — who marched through the country’s largest city Yangon Friday to demand the army give up power.

The nation has seen daily demonstrations for the past two weeks, with hundreds of thousands of protesters calling for the release of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was deposed in a military coup on February 1.

“We are coming together with everyone in our country because we are against this situation,” said Shin Thant, carrying a lavender-colored parasol to shield herself from the sun.

Demonstration Against Military Coup

Members of Myanmar’s LGBT community take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon

The well-known transgender activist was flanked by others in her community, some wearing traditional Myanmar fitted tops and a shin-length skirt called “longyi”.

Others went for a more modern look, with multi-layer bridal gowns or glittery clubwear.

Hundreds of supporters marched carrying rainbow-coloured placards with prints of the three-finger salute — a symbol of resistance borrowed from the Hunger Games film trilogy.

“We, the LGBTQ community, won’t give birth and our generation ends with us,” Shin Thant said.

“But I wanted to tell those who will have children that you should participate in this revolution.”

Myanmar's LGBT Community

Members of the Myanmar LGBT community display the three finger salute — a symbol of resistance borrowed from the Hunger Games film trilogy

Shin Thant is a former beauty queen and won Miss Trans Grand International Myanmar in 2018, but has reportedly faced harassment from authorities in the past.

The community still faces widespread discrimination in Myanmar, a conservative, mostly Buddhist country, with same-sex relationships criminalized under the penal code and trans people often harassed by authorities.

Myanmar's Daily Protests

Myanmar has seen daily protests for the past two weeks, calling for the release of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was deposed in a military coup on February 1

But Myanmar’s LGBTQ community have been making tentative attempts in recent years to step out into the open, with activists organizing pride parades and festivals that have drawn hundreds of supporters — a possible sign of changing mindsets in the cities.

Shin Thant urged protesters to try and stick to peaceful forms of civil disobedience.

“We don’t need violence — our goal is for the long term,” she said. “Please protest peacefully against all forms of injustice.”