Statement of Solidarity to Kyaw Zin Win and LGBTIQ community in Myanmar
ASEAN SOGIE Caucus expresses concern over the recent case of suicide involving Kyaw Zin Win, serving as librarian at Myanmar Imperial University – MIU. AS DESCRIBED BY LOCAL ACTIVISTS, he was honest and down to earth young man, a reserved person who hadn’t disclosed his sexual orientation to even close family members. However, he was forced to come out to his supervisor at Myanmar Imperial University – MIU following feedback from third parties. This traumatic experience led to further attacks and harassment by co-workers on social media suggesting he should be sent into the military, among other mocking remarks. Such incident is proof how social stigma and hate based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE) poses as a threat to the human right to life of LGBTIQ persons.
The UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (IESOGI) pointed out in his 2018 report to the Human Rights Council that LGBTIQ persons internalize negative attitudes and values of society, and this consequently pose detrimental impact on their mental health and result in self-harm or self-inflicted violence. The said report noted that LGBTIQ persons might face high risk of suicide due to familial or social abuse or rejection. Meanwhile, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's General Comment No. 20 pointed out those experiences of abuse, discrimination, and rejection among LGBTIQ adolescents are linked to low self-esteem, higher rates of depression and suicide. During the IESOGIE annual report at 41st session Victor Madrigal served as UN Independent Expert on SOGI emphasized that the case on bullying toward LGBT students still happening and called out the states member if they compelled the acts to take measures.
Protection of workers from SOGIE-based discrimination and violence within workplaces is contrary to Myanmar's human rights obligations. As a state party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Myanmar has the obligation to enact legislation that provide comprehensive protection of workers from discrimination, harassment and violence. The ICESC General Comment No. 23 on the Right to Just and Favorable Conditions of Work clearly points out the need for state parties to define harassment broadly, with explicit reference to sexual and other forms of harassment, such as on the basis of sex, disability, race, sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.
We urge the government of Myanmar to enact a policy to prevent and prohibiting SOGIE-based harassment and violence in workplaces, as part of their commitment to uphold international labor standards. Such policy must entail a comprehensive program that would provide redress for victims; create accessible and safe complaints mechanisms; compulsory training for all staff, including managers and officials; and provision of psychosocial support for affected workers.
We urge the Myanmar's Ministry of Health to implement SOGIESC-inclusive mental health programs to promote the well-being of LGBTIQ persons facing rejection, discrimination and violence.
We demand that legal action be undertaken against employees who have violated the victim's right to privacy and endangered his life through the spread of senseless rumors and attacks against his dignity.
We demand that the Myanmar Imperial University issue a public apology towards the family of the victim and to all LGBTIQ persons who may face attacks as a result of the harassment and bullying that happens in the university.
We demand that the Myanmar Imperial University undertakes all measures - policy, creating complaints mechanisms, staff training, and mental health support - to ensure that the University is a safe space for all persons regardless of their SOGIE.
We urge Republic of the Union of Myanmar to repeal the existence of discriminative law against homosexual person under Article 377 to ensure LGBTIQ rights to be protected .
Lastly, as a regional organization we also urge its ASEAN human rights mechanism ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to develop a normative framework, consistent with the ICESCR, to ensure protection of all workers from any form of sexual harassment and workplace discrimination, and guarantee fair and safe working environments.
Regional Coordinator of ASEAN SOGIE Caucus