Studies have proven that queer people are twice as likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts as opposed to straight people. While mental health struggles in the LGBTQ community are prevalent all around the world, a recent suicide in Myanmar has brought the discussion back to the forefront of Asian media.
25-year-old Kyaw Zin Wins, a librarian from Myanmar, died by suicide last week after posting online that his colleagues bullied him for his sexuality, Reuters reports.
In a Facebook post, Win said his colleagues shamed him and made him publicly announce he was gay. He wrote that Myanmar is a country that "mocks the existence and identity of an individual being” and that it is “a two-faced country that favors those in higher positions and bars the truth from being celebrated."
The Myanmar Imperial University, where Win worked, has suspended three staff members who took part in the bullying as a part of its investigation.
Win’s funeral was held on Wednesday, June 26, and saw hundreds of friends, family and prominent LGBTQ community figures show up in solidarity.
In an email to Reuters, Myanmar Imperial University said the death was a “huge tragedy” and that it has a zero-tolerance for discrimination on its campus.
In Myanmar, a colonial law remains that makes gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in jail. The same law exists unchanged in other countries across Asia, such as Malaysia and Singapore. India had it too, but it was repealed last year.
Win's death caused widespread public outcry among locals who believe Myanmar still has a lot to learn about LGBTQ rights. With growing calls for justice, The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission has decided to investigate the case as well.
Juan Miguel Sanches Marin, deputy director of LGBTQ rights group Equality Myanmar said: "LGBT discrimination in the workplace is unfortunately a common practice in Myanmar.”
“Young Myanmar LGBT (people) are especially vulnerable and often left to the tough decision of leading a life of secrecy or face discrimination and violence.”
Last month, Taiwan legalised gay marriage showing Asia's initial steps on a path of acceptance for the LGBTQ community. But amid these small wins, the region remains largely conservative as homophobia, bullying and harassment remain widespread.