Local dailies The Voice, 7 Day and Democracy Today reported the first public gay marriage ceremony between Myo Min Htet and Tin Ko Ko at the Excel Hotel in Yangon. Police are currently investigating whether they broke a law on same-sex intercourse that can carry up to life in prison.
“Our police force will investigate the wedding reception that was held at the Excel Hotel in Yangon. If it’s against the Section 377, we will take legal actions,” lieutenant Myint Lwin San from Bahan Police Department told Eleven Media.
The event attracted public criticism, questioning if Myanmar allows same-sex marriages or whether the couple had broken Section 377 of the Penal Code that states: “Anyone who has sexual intercourse with a male or female or animal abnormally shall be given a life sentence or a sentence of 10 years in prison or a fine or both.”
Myo Min Htet and Tin Ko Ko have been together for 10 years and celebrated their anniversary by getting married in a public ceremony with friends and relatives.
Both work with separate local community-based organizations for Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights and health care.
This was the first public gay marriage in Myanmar and the couple originally kept the location secret for fear that protestors might interrupt the ceremony.
Criticism of the wedding abounded on social media as well as religious organisations, with many calling the ceremony unlawful and against Buddhism, Myanmar’s predominant religion.
“Our Buddhism doesn’t allow it. It’s not appropriate naturally. We [Buddhist monks] also do not agree with it. We will not support any misconduct that is against the democratic system. It’s also against the Buddha teaching. It’s not appropriate…We should outlaw it extensively,” said U Pamoukka, presiding abbot of the Magway Monastery.
Some Facebook users said the event was a shameful and unacceptable thing for Myanmar.
Only 15 countries in the world officially allow same-sex marriage, but no country in Asia, besides Israel, has yet to support it by law.
Aung Myo Min, director of HREIB, a local organisation that works for gay rights, said that the marriage was not an official marriage but a ceremony among friends to celebrate their relationship.