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Asia’s first boat LGBTI pride parade looks incredible

Asia’s first boat LGBTI pride parade looks incredible

Yangon Pride (Photo: Violaine Beix / Facebook)

Thousands attended Myanmar’s largest LGBTI pride event this weekend.

Around 600 people boarded a flotilla of boats along the main river in commercial hub, Yangon, on Saturday (26 January).

Meanwhile, 10,000 attended pride events in a city park over the weekend. Attendees donned stilettos and tossed handbags for the drag olympics.

Yangon Pride in Myanmar (Photo: Provided)
Yangon Pride in Myanmar (Photo: Provided)

On Friday, a drag queen competition celebrated Myanmar’s emerging drag scene.

Yangon Pride (Photo: Violaine Beix / Facebook)
Yangon Pride (Photo: Violaine Beix / Facebook)

Gay sex is illegal in Myanmar under Section 377 of the colonial-era Penal Code. India’s Supreme Court dismantled the same law for being unconstitutional last year.

Yangon Pride (Photo: Violaine Beix / Facebook)
Yangon Pride (Photo: Violaine Beix / Facebook)

Last year’s Yangon Pride was the Southeast Asian country’s first ever public pride event.

Organizer Hla Myat Htun told Gay Star News the events would let the Myanmar public know about LGBTI people and their rights.

‘Young people will also become confident being who they with their gender and sexuality’ he said.

Bypassing city laws

‘We try to surprise people every year’ said festival co-director Willem van Rooij.

‘We put a lot of effort in making a beautiful festival site full of rainbow colours’ he told Gay Star News.

Van Rooij said his proudest moment was on the river. Draconian public assembly laws in Myanmar make a pride parade near impossible.

Yangon Pride in Myanmar (Photo: Provided)
Yangon Pride in Myanmar (Photo: Provided)

‘We found a way to parade in the middle of Yangon bypassing city laws’ he explained.

‘I just feel incredibly happy every time I see all these young LGBTIQs in the park, dressed to their best and being completely at ease – flirting and holding hands – alongside all of the many many curious Yangon families who visit the park and enjoy the activities’ he also said.

Heroes

This year’s celebration was themed ‘heroes’. An award ceremony recognized key Myanmar LGBTI figures.

Myanmar’s most famous gay man, macho actor Okkar Min Maung, was recognized as an LGBTI Hero.

‘It is truly an honor’ he told Gay Star News last week. ‘I will continue to stand up for the LGBTI community and their rights’.

Yangon Pride in Myanmar (Photo: Provided)

Okkar Min Maung famously came out in a Facebook video last year. His revelation shocked the Myanmar public. But, it helped change the way people view LGBTI people. Myanmar’s first LGBTI choir also performed this weekend.

The festival continues until 3 February with LGBTI film screenings across the city.

Yangon Pride (Photo: Violaine Beix / Facebook)
Yangon Pride (Photo: Violaine Beix / Facebook)

A number of regional LGBTI figures, including a lawyer key to India’s decriminalization, will attend the festivals discussion program.

What’s more, this year’s program will highlight intersex movies and activists. Organizers added for I (for intersex) to the festival’s title for the first time.