A gay couple have risked violence and imprisonment by getting married in a country where gay sex is illegal.
Tin Ko Ko and Myo Min Htet exchanged rings in Myanmar – also known as Burma – yesterday, in what is being described as the country’s first ‘public gay wedding’.
In an upmarket Yangon hotel, the two dressed in traditional clothes in a lavish public ceremony attended by over 200 guests.
While the couple had discussed the wedding to local media, they ensured the venue was a secret in fear it could attract violent mobs.
‘We both tried hard to make this a reality. I am almost speechless, I am so happy,’ said 28-year-old Myo Min Htet to the AFP, adding the wedding marked the couples’ 10th anniversary.
Tin Ko Ko, 38, said: ‘My family accepted me. I am so glad that my parents were understanding… but he had to overcome many difficulties from his family.’
Wai Phyo Myint, a journalist and LGBTI rights activist, said: ‘[This couple] doesn’t just stand up for themselves, their union is such an encouragement for other gay and lesbian couples across the country to come out strong and hold their head high by following their hearts.’
Gay sex is illegal in the Southeast Asian nation, punishable with up to ten years in prison. While prosecutions may be unusual, violence against the LGBTI community is not and the authorities often disregard discrimination.
Taboos around homosexuality have begun to relax after a quasi-civilian government replaced military rule three years ago. The first gay pride celebrates were held in May 2012.