A few months back my partner and I set off on a trip in search of LGBT communities around the globe. We were curious about the range of experiences for our LGBT brothers and sisters, and we simply wanted to educate ourselves – and those following our journey – about gay, bi and trans lives around the world.
One of our first stops was the remote and sparsely populated country of Mongolia. Mongolia is experiencing a unique moment in its history. After recently opening its doors to foreign investors (mostly Chinese) eager to cash in on one of the largest gold, copper and coal rushes since California in the mid 19th century, this newly democratic country is experiencing the fastest – and perhaps most unprepared for – economic growth on the planet.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Mongolia in 1986. While anti-discrimination laws have yet to be adopted, there is a motivated and effective LGBT Center of Mongolia which has been working hard to improve the situation for gays, lesbians, bi and trans people. Founded in 2007, and finally registered in 2009 (after much resistance from Mongolian authorities), the LGBT Center of Mongolia has received the prestigious Felipe de Souza Award from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) for their work as a grassroots organization. While there is still progress to be made, the center has succeeded in creating greater visibility for the community as well as providing accurate and positive information in Mongolian (prior to recent times information about sexual orientation and gender identity was mostly limited to English or Russian).
We had the opportunity to sit down and talk to one of the center founders and co-owner of the only LGBT bar in Mongolia, called 100%.