ADDED ON: 09/02/2018

Myanmar’s Spirit Festival Highlights Human Rights Issue

09/01/2018 | KEYT

Gyrating dancers passed through the crowds, bowing to men in silk dresses with orchids in their hair, as the normally sleepy village of Taung Byone marked the start of the annual Spirit Festival with a flamboyant opening ceremony. Every summer, this part of central Myanmar hosts the cross between a traditional religious gathering and gay pride festival, which has become a key event for the LGBT community in a country where those who do not conform to traditional gender ideas are often shunned and “homosexual acts” remain illegal. This year, as many as 5,000 people from across Myanmar traveled to the festival, many drawn by the promise of meeting with the event’s famed Nat Kadaws, mediums whose name translates as “spirit wives.”

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