Many of the places we run tours have a reputation of being particularly unfriendly to people in the LGBTI community. Even to some of our more tame destinations, such as Southeast Asia there may still be widespread discrimination and there are certain things to watch out for. Here are our tips for LGBTI travellers in Myanmar.
Under Burmese law, same-sex acts are illegal in Myanmar and are punishable by prison. Thankfully, this is almost never enforced and it is pretty easy to avoid prying eyes when behind a closed door. Myanmar is an incredibly conservative Buddhist society which until very recently used to be under a harsh dictatorship which persecuted people in the LGBTI community. Many of the laws that are anti-LGBTI are in fact relics left over from British colonial rule, although in general people in Myanmar are not very open to the LGBTI community.
Public displays of affection for both LGBTI and heterosexual couples are not encouraged. People here dress and act conservatively and this should be respected when visiting Myanmar. While tourism here is beginning to flourish it is still a very long way from being the party mecca that is Bangkok (which isn’t the worst thing in the world).
Despite the laws, gay nightlife does exist. There are monthly parties hosted by FAB at least once a month in Yangon. Information is available on the Yangon Events (YG Events) Facebook page. Travellers should still remind themselves that extremely drunken behaviour is not the norm on the streets of Yangon.
It is Safe!
Overall Myanmar is very safe to travel to for LGBTI people. The topic of LGBTI rights or whether or not you could be gay/transgender/intersex will most likely not come up at all. Hotels won’t say anything to you if you are sharing a room/ or bed with someone of the same sex, they want your money and will want to keep you happy so you come back to Myanmar!
Foreigners even if it is visibly clear that you may fit into one of the LGBTI categories will receive different treatment to locals. There have been attacks towards LGBTI people in Myanmar, however, these have all been local people and attacks and have not impacted westerners. This doesn’t make the attacks in any way less serious, foreigners just need to understand for some things we will be treated differently.
We pride ourselves on being an extremely LGBTI-friendly organization. If you are looking to travel to Myanmar, get in touch and travel with us knowing you’ll be in LGBTI-friendly hands!
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