The Heads of Missions of the European Union Delegation and EU Member States and Representation Offices resident in Myanmar issue the following statement:
17 May is the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). It is the occasion to reflect on the multiples challenges, discriminations and violence still faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer persons (LGBTIQ) around the world and to reaffirm our deep commitment to equal rights for all.
The fundamental principles of equality of rights and dignity are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Those rights are to be granted to all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or their gender identity, and all forms of discrimination and violence against LGBTIQ persons, in any part of the world, must be condemned.
As Myanmar society is undergoing profound changes, new areas of freedom are opening up and the possibilities of choice for everyone are widening. In this context, the situation of LGBTIQ persons has also improved over the past years and we commend the work of the Government and the courage of many civil society organisations, Human Rights defenders and committed individuals who stand up for equal rights and strive every day to give a voice to those who are too often compelled to hide or to keep silent.
The EU Delegation and the EU Member States resident in Myanmar note that Section 377 of the Penal Code, which provides for up to ten years of imprisonment for same-sex relationship, appears little or not enforced in the country. However, this law poses a persistent threat to physical and psychological safety of many individuals. The Government and lawmakers have the opportunity to take a step further and consider abolishing this article as it represents a legal barrier to the further advancement of Human Rights. We also encourage the Government to provide legal protection against homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, and to facilitate access to justice and grievance mechanisms for victims.
We understand that this topic remains sensitive to many in the society but we firmly believe that a continuous and open dialogue is necessary to increase public knowledge of the issues at hand so that we better understand each other.
This year’s theme of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is “Breaking the silence”. The global fight against COVID-19 prevents us from coming together to celebrate IDAHOT with our civil society and institutional partners but, in order to “break the silence”, the Embassy of France in Yangon and the Institut français de Birmanie, will be sharing on their Facebook page contents such as films, photo stories and online shows, from May 17 to 22, in order to raise awareness about LGBTIQ rights. Together with the EU Delegation and other Member States, they will also be joining and supporting the online campaign led by local organizations such as Colors Rainbow and &Proud.
On the occasion of IDAHOT Day, the EU Delegation and the Embassies and Representation Offices of the EU Member States resident in Myanmar reiterate their commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender intersex and queer persons in Myanmar.
Yangon, 17 May 2020