Burmese LGBT rights activists have announced they will take Myanmar Police to court after a group of 12 cross dressing gay men were allegedly stripped and assaulted after being arrested while being in a known meeting place for LGBT people.
The arrests took place on July 6 near Mandalay’s Sedona Hotel and the city’s historic moat in an area which has been claimed by the local LGBT community.
Equality Myanmar told The Irrawady magazine they plan to move a case against the police before the end of July.
‘We are now discussing with the lawyers to submit the case next week. We have to do this because the police mistreated the detainees, which is beyond the limits of their responsibilities,’ Equality Myanmar director Aung Myo Min told the newspaper.
‘If the court accepts the case, it will show that there are rules of law in the country. Many detainees, not only gays, are being abused by the police and these actions tarnish the image of the police. Such actions must stop.’
The detainees were released on bail after police made them sign a statement stating that they would not wear women’s clothes and would stay away from the vicinity of the moat.
Police claimed they were only doing their job in forcing the men to strip.
‘We were just carrying out our duties,’ Mandalay Division police officer Soe Nyein said.
‘Since they are men, we must not let them go into men’s cells with wigs, bras, condoms and women’s attire. So we had to take them all off.’
However the arrested men say they were also beaten and forced to do frog jumps and that police made them shout that they were men, not women.
Equality Myanmar had previously announced plans to file complaints with the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and the Mandalay Division Government
Homosexuality can be punished in Myanmar with 10 years to life in prison but the law is rarely enforced and LGBTs are increasingly visible in the country since the government announced it would transition to democracy.