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Yangon Pride celebrates boat parade despite gay sex being illegal

Yangon Pride celebrates boat parade despite gay sex being illegal

  • Families joined LGBT+ people for Yangon Pride, signaling growing acceptance in Myanmar, despite the country’s laws.
Celebrating on the boat parade at Yangon Pride in Myanmar.

LGBT+ people in Myanmar’s capital Yangon have taken Pride to the water for a colorful boat parade – despite the country criminalising LGBT+ people.

Myanmar, previously called Burma, has no legal protections for LGBT+ people. Gay sex is illegal with a maximum term of life in jail – although authorities rarely prosecute. They even ban heterosexual oral sex.

But that hasn’t stopped LGBT+ campaigners from planning three weekends of Pride activities across the capital.

Yangon Pride boat parade

These amazing photos show the boat parade sailing down the Yangon River on 20 January.

Yangon Pride is Asia’s only LGBT+ boat parade – and one of the few Prides in the world to take place on water.

Around 800 participants boarded a small flotilla of three boats at Botahtaung Jetty for the sunset cruise.

Rainbow decorated boats took part in the Yangon Pride parade.
Rainbow decorated boats took part in the Yangon Pride parade. Yangon Pride
Boat on Yangon River for the LGBT+ Pride boat parade.
The sunset party on the river. Yangon Pride
Dancers on a boat at Yangon Pride.
Dancing time at Yangon’s LGBT+ boat parade. Yangon Pride.
DJ at Yangon Pride boat parade.
DJs kept the party-goers dancing. Yangon Pride
The party went into the night at Yangon Pride.
The party went into the night at Yangon Pride. Yangon Pride
Dancing at Yangon Pride.
This is the fourth Yangon Pride boat parade. Yangon Pride.

But that’s not the end of the festival. It has included a Drag Olympics, dance and photography as well as a gathering of 10,000 people in Thakhin Mya Park. And next weekend will focus on film, debate and theatre, before Yangon Pride 2020 ends on 2 February.

Hla Myat Tun, co-director of &PROUD which runs the festival, says Yangonites of all kinds join in the Thakhin Mya Park event. And families make up a large part of the audience.

He added: ‘It shows that acceptance of the community is really on the rise. In Yangon, but also in the rest of Myanmar.’

Love Is Not A Crime campaign

Meanwhile, the organisers have also run a new campaign, declaring ‘Love Is Not A Crime’ to build on this acceptance. And they’ve called for Myanma people to show ‘solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bi transgender, intersex and queer community’.

Their central demand is for the law to treat LGBT+ people equally.

Hla Myat Tun explained: ‘We are asking everyone to turn their little finger pink and to share a picture.

‘By showing your pink pinky you show that you love and support people no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity is. And you are helping to raise awareness for the equality of LGBTIQ people.

‘We ask everyone in Myanmar to show their support by updating their Facebook photo with the pink pinky logo.’

Yangon Pride boat parade 2020.
The boat parade floated down the Yangon River. Yangon Pride