Recently, two Myanmar gay men were arrested and charged separately for engaging in homosexuality. Gay Star News reported on 8th November 2018 that Addy Chen and Paw Paw, a restaurant owner and make-up artist respectively were charged under Section 377 of Myanmar's national penal code that criminalizes carnal knowledge against the order of nature. Chen, also an outspoken LGBT activist was accused of sexual assault by an employee and was denied bail while Paw Paw was charged for allegedly engaging in same sex conduct with a minor.
The anti-gay legislation of Myanmar's penal code shares a similar history with most countries especially in both Asia and Africa continents. It was initiated in 1860 by the British and is punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment even though it has barely been enforced over the years. LGBT persons are legally and socially challenged by discrimination in Myanmar. Chen who is HIV positive has limited access to the Antiretroviral treatment though he is in incarceration. Furthermore, the accusations against him are basically one-sided because of his sexuality and HIV status which hurts the whole LGBT community.
Human Rights activists have argued that the police have always used such arrests as a tactic to threaten and extort money from the accused victims. Such injustices have forced sexual minorities in Myanmar to live closeted lives, a reality not different from the current wave of occurrences against the LGBT community in Tanzania. After the Regional Governor of Dar es Salaam inciting the public to out gay persons for arrests last week, 10 men were reportedly detained over the weekend on suspicion of homosexuality at Pogwe beach in Zanzibar. According to CNN (7th November 2018), Amnesty International reported that the group was just enjoying themselves before the police apprehended them for "attending at a gay wedding". However, an anonymous Human Rights Defender in Zanzibar intimated that, "This was not a gay wedding as the police say. They always use that as an excuse." He added, "The situation here is even worse than that on the mainland and it has gotten bad since the new president came in." It is feared that the suspects would be subjected to forced anal examinations to prove their sexuality.
In related news, two staff of Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) are currently detained in an undisclosed location in Tanzania. Citizen Digital reported this morning that Muthoki Mumo and Angela Quital were whisked away from their hotel room in Dar es Salaam yesterday and their travel documents were confiscated by officers who identified themselves as working with Tanzanian immigration. The two journalists were in the country on duty by the time they were arrested. This directly portrays the suppression of the freedom of press in addition to other violations caused by this chaos. Despite the withdrawal of EU's ambassador and assurance of non involvement by the government in the crackdown of its gay citizens, the queer community remains under attack and living in terror with no sense of safety.