Myanmar movies give misinformation about LGBT people, LGBT rights activist says

29 December 2018
Myanmar movies give misinformation about LGBT people, LGBT rights activist says
Photo: Ruby Ye

Most of the LGBT movies in Myanmar are giving misinformation about the LGBT community, by presenting ubiquitous sex scenes and funny characters, an LGBT rights activist said this week.

“There are a lot of LGBT movies in Myanmar but in the movies, they expect the life of LGBT people concerning with the sex,” said Min Nyein Chan, the coordinator of LGBT Rights Network. “Every time they show LGBT people in the movie, they want to make love. Every time. They present this kind of activity to people.” 

Although most of the sex scenes are obscure, Min Nyein Chan believed the “indirect information” the LGBT films gave the audience is “bad”. 

As a gay man himself, Min Nyein Chan was once sexually harassed by his straight male friend, because his friend assumed he was eager to have sex. Min Nyein Chan set his experience as an example to show how the media, especially films, mislead the audience and encourage discrimination in Myanmar.

Min Nyein Chan was also dissatisfied with the funny LGBT characters in Myanmar movies. According to recent research “Gender Awareness in Myanmar’s Film Industry”, most of the comedy films have included LGBT characters and have featured them as being hysterical, having low intelligence, being funny and or idiotic. Mostly, the role of LGBT characters is used just to tell dirty jokes about sexuality. 

A film named “The Gemini” (2016), however, broke the stereotypes on LGBT characters in Myanmar movies by telling a secret sad love story between two Myanmar boys who faced difficulties in their lifelong togetherness after one had been forced into an arranged marriage. 

Few people went to the cinema showing, though The Gemini conveyed positive information for the LGBT community, said Min Nyein Chan, “But if they present funny LGBT people, there are a lot of people coming into the cinema. So most of the producers they present LGBT characteristics as funny. Funny movies are easy to watch, right?”

Myanmar’s film industry seems to fall into a vicious circle: when the audience prefers films making fun of LGBT characters, the filmmakers will prefer producing films mocking the LGBT community. “Producing LGBT movies is becoming a way for filmmakers to make easy money,” said Min Nyein Chan. 

What worried Min Nyein Chan was that there is no film rating system in Myanmar, children are exposed to movies with discrimination as well. At the same time, these movies can be watched everywhere, not only in the cinema but also on Facebook and on DVDs.

In his opinion, the lack of critical thinking skills, analysing information skills and sex education is making sexual orientation discrimination in Myanmar even more serious. “After 50 years of dictatorship, we didn’t have access to the right information,” said Min Nyein Chan. “Most people see something [in the movie], they just believe it easily.”

“All LGBT people are not the same emotionally, some are hunting for sex, some of them just want to live alone, because we have a lot of people [like us],” said Min Nyein Chan. “The movie and reality are not the same.”