Myanmar’s LGBTI welcome first community cafe

LGBTI cafe My Place opens in Myanmar's commercial hub, Yangon

Myanmar last month opened what could well be the country’s first LGBTI cafe, named My Place.

Well-known actress Khine Hnin Wai and her partner Junior Dennis set up the cafe in the country’s commercial hub, Yangon.

‘I want them [LGBTI] to feel warm, relax, and equality when they come to My Place.’ said Junior Dennis.

Homosexual sex is illegal in Myanmar under article 377 of the colonial-era penal code, although it is rarely enforced.

LGBTI people in Myanmar do, however, face widespread stigma and discrimination.

Local LGBTI people and allies have welcomed the community space.

Facebook users reviewing the cafe described it as ‘friendly,’ ‘warm,’ ‘welcoming’ and said that it ‘empowered’ the local LGBTI community.

‘Why not Myanmar?’

Junior Dennis explained that neighboring China and Thailand have many LGBTI venues. ‘Why not Myanmar?’ the owner asked.

No one will look down on people at My Place, said Junior Dennis.

‘[Customers] are all equal to any other human beings and have all the rights of human society,’ the owner said.

The couple adorned the cafe’s walls with photos of LGBTI celebrities including Sam Smith, Kristen Stewart, and Ellen DeGeneres.

The cafe sells rainbow accessories including shirts and flags and offers leaflets and advice LGBTI issues.

It serves up local coffee and Thai food with half of profits going to a charity founded by Khine Hnin Wai.

Myanmar's first LGBTI cafe in commercial hub, Yangon.

Myanmar’s first LGBTI cafe in commercial hub, Yangon.

More safe spaces

HlaMyat Tun of local LGBTI group Colors Rainbow welcomed the new space for the community.

But, the activist, said: ‘Importantly, existing spaces should also be non-discriminatory.’

‘We need more safe spaces in daily life, such as schools, home, and workplaces,’ he told Gay Star News.

‘People look down [on LGBTI] for no concrete reason and start discriminating by isolating them from the society,’ he explained.

In January, thousands attended Myanmar’s first public LGBTI pride party.

Last month, Myanmar actor and model Okkar Min Maung (also known as Ye Htoo Win) sent shockwaves through society when he publicly came out as gay.

‘I am who I am, I love who I love. I won’t give up,’ he said in a video that went viral.

Grindr Planning IPO on International Stock Exchanges

The world’s largest gay social hook-up platform with 3 million daily active users, Grindr is planning an initial public offering on international stock exchanges.

Bloomberg reports: “Grindr — a wholly owned unit of the Chinese internet gaming firm — will list overseas at an unspecified time, the company said. The timing of the share sale will be determined by regulatory approval as well as capital market conditions, it said in a stock exchange filing.”

The South China Morning Post adds: “The timing of the listing is dependent on conditions in the international capital market and progress of approval from domestic and overseas regulators, Kunlun said in a public filing on the Shenzhen stock exchange on Wednesday. While the executive board has approved the listing plan, it still needs approval by the shareholder board. Kunlun bought a 61.5 per cent stake in Grindr in 2016 at a valuation of US$155 million, and acquired the remaining shares for full ownership in January.”

The post Grindr Planning IPO on International Stock Exchanges appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.

LGBTI Chinese buyers scoop up Thai real estate

LGBTI people from China are increasingly on the lookout for property in Thailand.

The places of most interest for Chinese LGBTI property buyers are Bangkok and Phuket, with many buyers claiming to feel more comfortable in these LGBTI-friendly cities than in their home country.

Chinese buyers who identify as LGBTI account for between 5-8% of total property-buying inquiries in Bangkok, The Bangkok Post reported.

LGBTI inquires are estimated to be around $50-80 million of the almost $1 billion of Chinese investment Thailand has seen over the last 18-months, says Chinese international real estate website Juwai.com.

Thailand is far more LGBTI-friendly than China, where the LGBTI community can still face varying levels of systemic and cultural discrimination.

‘Overseas, many feel free to openly express their identities and their affections and live openly with the partner of their choice,’ said Carrie Law, the chief executive of Juwai.com.

‘They want to own property in a place they can feel comfortable visiting and living in. The advantage in disposable income may be even greater because they do not have children,’ she added.’

In the last 20-years China’s economy has boomed, leading to a greater number of the population having an expendable income.

‘LGBT buyers are more likely to be buying a pure investment property or a residence for their own use as a second or third home,’ says Law. ‘More often they are seen buying in destinations that are popular vacation destinations for LGBT travelers.’

A more comfortable option

Thailand is one of the most LGBTI-friendly countries in Asia and is known for being highly accommodating to LGBTI visitors.

In contrast, China has maintained a mediocre record on LGBTI rights, where, until 2001, homosexuality was considered a mental health disease.

While homosexuality is not illegal in China and LGBTI rights have improved in recent years, the LGBTI community can often encounter problems under the country’s authoritarian regime.

This is particularly true of activists, who can face clampdowns when organizing marches or public events, which, in turn, can affect public education and awareness of LGBTI rights.

China is also notorious for its censorship of the media, from which LGBTI representation has not been spared.