First LGBT Pride week celebrated in Mongolia; one step to equality and non-discrimination

Last week saw  Mongolian first  LGBT pride week celebration. Many saw banner that said “ Prideweek Mongolia-2013” striped with the famous rainbow color of LGBT movement hanging over the the main entrance of Chinggis Khaan hotel.
Although, all events of the Pride week was held indoors for security reasons, mere fact that opening and closing of the Pride week took place in the country’s top five star hotel, owned by one of the former Prime Ministers of Mongolia was very telling.
According to Mongolian LGBT center (www.lgbt.mn) “The Pride Week is being organised to promote diversity, non-discrimination and human rights for all, on the heels of the Parliamentary resolution of 3 July 2013 to improve the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender/transsexual people in Mongolia. Mongolia does not have a broad-based anti-discrimination legislation, nor does its Constitution include non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Many events such as “ Beyond the Blue sky” multimedia exhibition, support meeting and workshops of family members and friends of LGBT people and health issues, Queer film festival were organized. The Pride week was culminated with “Miss Beauty” super drag show.All this show Mongolia has become most liberal country in the  Central Asia and neighboring China and Russia.
Compared to other countries, say Middle Eastern countries which bans homosexuality on the basis of hardline Islamic teaching, Mongolia does not have  religious tradition that bans same-sex love. Both traditional Mongolian shamanism and Lamaism (Tibetan Buddhism) does not condemn LGBT people or threaten them with harsh punishment or eternal damnation as main attitude of both is very accepting and something like “ live and let others  live.”
However, under the 70 years of Soviet rule, Mongolians began to abhore LGBT people.This attitude was instilled in the laws and social values and ethics.  Mongolia criminalized same-sex sexual relations up until 1986 in its Criminal code, and even the democratic transition in the early 90s did not help dispel myths, misconceptions and entrenched negative social attitudes towards sexual minority. Mongolian mass media and extremist groups still  refer to the sexual minority as “homosexuals, perverts”. They criticize that  gays and lesbians will not contribute to population growth and breaches traditonal Mongolian values and therefore,should be shunned.
Registration of first LGBT center was uphill battle, as veteran LGTB activists recall. The center finally registered in late 2009, took a leadership role on conducting domestic and international advocacy aimed at improving the social and legal situation of LGBT  people in Mongolia.
During the Pride week, at the invitation of a close friend, I went to the first ever Queer film festival of Mongolia. The first movie was about Indonesian LGBT people known as Waria  and second movie was about Mongolian gay love story.
I found the movies very interesting. I was always aware of existence of LGBT community in Mongolia since 2000 when I first met my friend who is a trans.It was he who first told me  about sexual orientation and discrimination issues LGTB people faces in Mongolia. The “Pride” week events was eye-opener for me to see and meet LGBT people of Mongolia. I find them very educated and liberal people. Considering myself a liberal person who is willing to stand for the downtrodden and underdog of Mongolian society, I think the first Pride week of Mongolia was one big step to equality and freedom in Mongolia.
Still much needs to be done to change mentality of mainstream society towards the LGBT people. Although the law says “ no discrimination”, like all other laws in Mongolia, its implementation is poor and people’s understanding is very low.

By Shagai, MonInfo news service
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