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Myanmar: Gay couple weds even though marriage has no legal standing

Law criminalizing same-sex relations not strictly enforced

A gay Myanmar couple got married March 2 in a ceremony conducted according to traditional rites, even though such a union has no legal standing in the country. Credit: Agence France-Presse

A gay couple in Myanmar who have lived together for 10 years got married March 2 even though their union has no legal standing in the country, the Bangkok Post reports.

The wedding of Tin Ko Ko and Myo Min Htet, attended by 200 guests, was performed according to the rites typically observed in other Myanmar marriage ceremonies, the report says.

Myanmar’s penal code, a colonial-era legacy, criminalizes same-sex relations, with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison for those who break the law.

The Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), a non-profit media organization, says that  while Section 377 does not specifically refer to homosexuality, it has been invoked against consenting adult homosexuals but less and less frequently over time. The penal code also contains a variety of provisions that could be used against gay people, including Sections 269 and 270, which prohibit a person from “negligently” spreading a sexually transmitted disease; Sections 292 to 294, which ban making, selling or distributing “obscene” material to adults or minors, or engaging in “obscene” acts in public; and Section 469, which prohibits being involved in a marriage ceremony apart from a legal marriage.

The DVB report notes that another same-sex ceremony was held in November in Mon State and attracted considerable media attention because the event was made public.