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Gay Yangon residents celebrate during the first day of the Thingyan water festival in April of 2011. Photo: AFP
Hope for Myanmese gays living in a secret world

in MYANMAR, 14/03/2013

Myanmese gays must defy the law and a hostile culture to practise their sexuality, but see signs of hope in a changing country.

Snapping a portrait of two men in traditional Burmese costumes, smiling in a sea of golden bowls and flowers, may seem relatively innocuous compared to the many historic steps Myanmar has taken in recent years.

But photographer Phone Myat Htoo may have been the first in recent years to capture a gay wedding in Myanmar.

The photo, which he posted on Facebook in October with a caption supporting same-sex marriage, received positive comments from hundreds of internet users in the region and was shared by some 1,000 more.

But it also sparked violent reactions in Myanmar, where homosexuality is a crime under Section 377 of its penal code, and where members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community face a mix of grudging tolerance and outright discrimination.

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