The nightclub is heaving, sweaty and loud, pulsating with blinding blue and white lights, and packed with drunken dancers. At the bar, the young sons of Burma's elite are buying bottles of Jack Daniel's and Johnnie Walker with thick wads of dirty kyat notes. But inside the double doors and through the dark fog of the smoke machine, a cultural transformation is taking place on the dance floor. Clubbers are grinding up against each other – girls on girls, boys on boys – singing along to American hip-hop blaring out of the giant speakers in the corner.
In a country that still criminalises homosexual activity – a legacy from when the British once ruled this country of 50 million – such sights have long been kept out of view. But as Burma slowly opens up, many of its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population are hoping they will no longer have to stay in the shadows.
SWAN is a network of Shan women active in Thailand & the Thai-Burma border. Its mission is to work for gender equality & justice for Shan women in the struggle for socio-political change in Burma through community-based actions, research and advocacy.
WLUML joins other human rights organizations from around the world are concerned for the safety and freedom of human rights activists within Burma following the brutal crackdown on peaceful protestors.