Nombre 377 en birman

Number 377 in Burmese

Section 377 is the main law used to repress the  Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community.

A 150 years old law!

The law date from 1860 when the country was part of the British Empire. Governments and dictatorships that followed kept it as a tool against homosexual and trans-sexual population especially. It frames:

Unnatural offences: Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

This law is rarely used as such, but it is still a tool in the hands of those who hold the power to harass the transgender community specifically.

Since the change of Government and a new freedom of speech, the presence of the gay community in the media is more open. Facing a conservative society, it however seeks to change discriminatory attitudes.

In a context of mobile first, society is changing faster than mores

The era of social media helps this community to advance their rights, as in the unofficial marriage of two men in Rangoon in 2012.

Mariage homosexuel non-officiel à Rangoon en 2012 en habit traditionnel- Source: Phone-Myat Htoo

Same-sex marriage unofficial in traditional clothes, in Rangoon in 2012 – Source: Facebook/Phone-Myat Htoo

The AFP was there and its images of the marriage have toured the televisions in the world.

Other laws can be used to oppress the LGBT community, as articles 269 and 270 of the penal code, which punished “for negligence in spreading sexually transmitted diseases”, article 290 to “commit public nuisance” or yet section 5 of the emergency law which prohibits all activities affecting “morality” of an individual or a group of people.

DVB debate TV show discussed the topic in 2014.

The association Equality Myanmar conducts research on section 377 and produced a report.