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Myanmar to investigate death of gay librarian Kyaw Zin Win

Myanmar to investigate death of gay librarian Kyaw Zin Win

Kyaw Zin Win (in black suit) at work in Myanmar Imperial University (Photo: Facebook)

The National Human Rights Commission of Myanmar will investigate the death of Kyaw Zin Win.

The 26-year-old librarian at the Myanmar Imperial University shared details of homophobic bullying from colleagues in a Facebook post before taking his own life on Sunday.

Kyaw Zin Win wrote that Myanmar was ‘a country which mocks the existence and identity of an individual being’.

Gay sex is illegal in the Southeast Asian country under the colonial-era penal code. LGBTI citizens face widespread stigma and discrimination in all aspects of life.

On Thursday (27 June), Yu Lwin Aung from Myanmar’s National Human Rights Commission told AFP the commission they would speak to family members and the university’s management.

‘This case highlights the gaps in the law’ she said. LGBTI rights groups and other human rights defenders have called on Myanmar to repeal its anti-gay law.

They also called on the government to protect LGBTI people with anti-discrimination legislation.

An attendee of the funeral of Myanmar librarian Kyaw Zin Win holds his photograph (Photo: Facebook)
An attendee of the funeral of Myanmar librarian Kyaw Zin Win holds his photograph (Photo: Facebook)

Funeral for a hero

Hundreds of mourners attended Kyaw Win Zin’s funeral on Wednesday.

Local LGBTI rights activist Min Nyein Chan told Gay Star News ‘we recognized him as a hero of the LGBT community’.

LGBT activist Aunty Min, meanwhile, said at the funeral ‘LGBT people throughout the country wanted to come here to show our solidarity.’

‘We pray for you not to have this kind of experience in your next life’ they said.

Local media reported it was the first time a rainbow flag had been draped on the coffin at a Myanmar funeral (Photo: Facebook)
Local media reported it was the first time a rainbow flag had been draped on the coffin at a Myanmar funeral (Photo: Facebook)

It was the first time a rainbow flag had been draped over a coffin at a Myanmar funeral, local media reported.

Photos and an interview of Kyaw Zin Win’s grandmother mourning her grandson were widely shared in Myanmar on Wednesday.

Many Facebook users in Myanmar had changed their profile pictures to a black circle with a rainbow edge. A protest outside MIU is planned for Friday.

‘Terrified of the people’

In his Facebook post now shared thousands of times, Kyaw Zin Win detailed how senior staff members forced him to reveal his sexuality, even though he had not told his immediate family.

He said he was ‘terrified of the people’.

The young librarian also shared details of a homophobic comment from a student passed on to him by a colleague.

Finally, he included screenshots of group chats with his colleagues in which they mocked him.

‘We should send him to the army like you said’ one colleague wrote.

Kyaw Zin Win was 25 and worked at Myanmar Imperial University (Photo: Facebook)
Kyaw Zin Win was 25 and worked at Myanmar Imperial University (Photo: Facebook)

Kyaw Zin Win wrote ‘I bear it patiently, wishing it would end soon’ below one of the screenshots of abuse.

Hla Myat Tun, Deputy Director of equality organization Colors Rainbow, said bullying in the workplace was ‘very common’.

But, he said, this was the first prominent case of suicide.

He urged the university to take action against those responsible.

He told Gay Star News Section 377 was the ‘root cause’ of this kind of incident.

‘It allows individuals, people, and institutions to discriminate’. He urged lawmakers to push for decriminalization.

He also said companies had a duty to protect their staff from discrimination and create a safe working environment.

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