Myanmar is a land of golden pagodas and temples as well as ancient traditions that quickly adjusts to the modernity of the changing world and opens up to tourism. Numerous places where tours are made having a reputation of being unfriendly to people in the LGBTI community. In Southeast Asia, in some parts, there is prevalent discrimination, for that reason, we will provide LGBTI travelers with some tips when taking a trip to Myanmar.
LGBTI in Myanmar
According to Myanmar laws, same-sex acts are considered as illicit actions and ‘Carnal intercourse against nature’ is legally punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years. Fortunately, this legislation is almost never enforced. Myanmar is actually a conservative Buddhist nation that used to be controlled by a severe monocracy that oppressed people belonging to the LGBTI community. In fact, Burmese are not very open-hearted to the LGBTI community; however, many of the laws which are against LGBTI are the remains of British colonial domination in the past. Additionally, some Buddhists believe that those who committed sexual misconduct (such as adultery) in the previous life will become gay or lesbian in this life, but it is just a prejudice.
In Myanmar, people dress and behave reservedly and in a conventional way; as a result, public displays of affection for both LGBTI and straight couples are not accepted, you should act correctly so as to respect their tradition. Although Myanmar tourism is starting to thrive and people are gradually more open-minded than before, there is a very long way to take if Myanmar wants to become a mecca like Bangkok – where LGBTI are welcomed warmheartedly as everyone.
Most comfortable destinations for LGBTI travelers
Once thinking about traveling in Myanmar, the tourists are often advised to visit Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake and the ancient capital of Yangon, that’s the reason why these destinations are familiar with them and LGBTI travelers also can take a trip here without any worries.
Although there are no establishments and services reserved for LGBTI, Yangon is a center where a large number of the multicultural community live. Once a month, there is a gay event hosted here, most of the participants are the local which draws much attention from young people.
Myanmar LGBTI Nightlife
Despite being against the laws, gay nightlife still takes place in Myanmar. Monthly parties are held at least once a month by FAB (The First-Year Advocacy Board – an immersion program for the first year and transfer LGBT & Ally students to assist with the transition from high school to college and to provide support through social, academic and excursion events) in Yangon. If you want to know more information about it, do not hesitate to click on the Yangon Events (YG Events) Facebook page. One thing you should bear in mind is that drunken behavior on the streets is a taboo in Yangon, therefore, you can have fun but do not have “too much” fun or else you will make a bad impression in the eyes of Burmese.
Travel safety tips for LGBTI in Myanmar
• The hotel staff may not know that you – two men or two women together are a couple, therefore, you should give them the details before booking a room via telephone or email.
• It would be better if you avoid public displays of affection which are considered a taboo in Myanmar.
• Closeness among Burmese men is not regarded as a sign of homosexuality, just friendship.
• Lesbian travelers ought to bear in mind that women are extremely respectful in Myanmar; consequently, if you catch the prying or glancing eyes from passersby on the streets, it is not an uncivil or aggressive behavior, just a sign of curiosity because you are a foreigner.
• You can use dating apps such as Grindr, Hornet, and Tinder to seek for LGBTI venues, nightlife, and events but you have to take precautions of prostitution since it can cause some troubles.
• You should dress appropriately, covering knees and shoulders, especially when entering pagodas and temples.