Myanmar’s first openly gay candidate to run for a parliamentary seat in the conservative Buddhist country’s November elections wants to put an end to the abuse that members of the LGBT community say they suffer at the hands of the police.
Myo Min Tun, 39, has stepped up as a People’s Pioneer Party (PPP) candidate for a seat in the regional parliament in Mandalay representing a constituency in the local capital of the same name. Mandalay is Myanmar’s second-largest city with a population of 1.2 million people.
The florist and wedding planner says he wants to protect the rights of the LGBT community in the city, where gay men, transgender people, and same-sex couples have complained of wrongful arrests on trumped-up charges and physical assaults by police officers.
In 2013, a group of gay men and transgender women accused police of arbitrarily arresting them, and then beating them, verbally abusing them, and forcing them into humiliating positions. Police officials denied the allegations.
“This is not lawful,” Myo Min Tun said about the incidents.
“As a LGBT member of parliament, I think I could help protect them,” he added.
The PPP, a relatively new party started by a lawmaker formerly affiliated with but later dismissed by the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party, was registered with election authorities in October 2019. More than 200 PPP candidates are running for dozens of parliamentary seats in state and regional elections.
Myo Min Tun is among the nearly 7,000 candidates from more than 90 parties running for legislative seats in the Nov. 8 elections. The parties have until Nov. 6 to present their platforms and programs and drum up support among voters.
Photo courtesy of Myo Min Tun/Facebook