Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gay and Lesbian Travel a booming segment at ITB Berlin 2015

The Gay & Lesbian Travel Pavilion, the world’s largest platform for LGBT tourism, welcomes new exhibitors – discussion round at the ITB Berlin Convention on the prospects for LGBT social media campaigns – a cult event: the ITB TomOnTour Party on 4 March 2015

Gay and lesbian travel is one of the fastest-growing markets in the international travel industry. Ever since 2010 ITB Berlin has grouped all the relevant providers on an attractive combined display in order to focus attention on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender tourism (LGBT). The Gay & Lesbian Travel Pavilion in the centrally located entrance area in front of the Caribbean Hall 3.1b, now showcases the world’s largest range of LGBT tourism products at any trade fair.

Among this year’s exhibitors attending the Pink Pavilion for the first time are Mykonos Accommodation Center with gay-friendly hotels from Mykonos, the Stockholm Gay & Lesbian Network with EuroGames 2015, the Dorsett Hotel Group with hotels in Asia and the UK as well as the gay tour operator Zenith Travel from Ecuador and Servicewerk Berlin with partners from Belgium. A first time exhibitor is also the German Gay&Lesbian Travel Magazine BonVoyage. Key West, Florida Keys & Key West, Fort Lauderdale as well as Ontario with Toronto, are represented for the first time with their own LGBT stand at the world’s largest travel trade show. Wien Tourism together with the popular Vienna Gay Café and ITB LGBT partner TomOnTour/Diversity Tourism GmbH are long-standing exhibitors at the show. The stand of Vienna Tourism features a cube with a large photo of Conchita Wurst and questions about the Eurovision Song Contest which in 2015 will take place in Vienna. Those who get the right answers will be able to win prizes. Also taking part again are the Spartacus Gay Guide, Brazil with ABRAT and Embratur, Argentina Turismo LGBT, Diversity Consulting from Madrid, the Ella Festival from Majorca, Gay Gran Canaria and the IGLTA (International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association), together with World Rainbow Hotels, Gay Guide 365, Here Media, and co-exhibitors from Tel Aviv and Barcelona.

Following its successful launch last year, in 2015 the Gay & Lesbian Media Networking Brunch will be taking place on Wednesday, 4 March. From 11 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. members of the media will be able to get together in an informal atmosphere with representatives of destinations and other tourism providers. Part of it will be the Ella Festival for Women, One & Only Hotels, Toronto and Ontario, Hotel GranVia Kyoto from Japan, Spartacus and TomOnTour and, for the first time, the city of Athens (the City of Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau), which is acting as the main sponsor of the event. Another regular highlight is the reception organised by the Spartacus Gay Guide at their stand on 5 March 2015, the Thursday of ITB. Among those taking part are IGLTA, the Berlin Aids relief organisation (Berliner Aids Hilfe) and Air Berlin. Also on Thursday, night-fly agents from MANEO (a Berlin Anti-Violence-Project) will invite trade visitors to stop in hall 12 where ITB LGBT Partner visitBerlin and the Pink Pillow initiative will host a reception from 4.30 to 6.00 p.m. On the same day, Chic Outlet Shopping® will invite all IGLTA members and interested exhibitors to a midday reception at their stand in hall 18, stand 125a. On the Saturday of ITB ’Queer Tango’, a legendary event and major attraction for the public, will be taking place at 3pm on the gay and lesbian stand of Argentina. Also on Saturday, the Greek island of Mykonos will regale visitors at a 4 o’clock reception with cheese and wine. Taking place on 4 March 2015 at the Park Inn on Alexanderplatz will be the ITB Party by TomOnTour, a cult event for partygoers. Admission is by invitation only. Visit Florida with the Florida Keys & Key West, St.Petersburg / Clearwater and Fort Lauderdale are the exclusive partner of the event. On Thursday night the party will go on with the Mate Travel Awards get-together which will take place at the Tube Station in Berlin Friedrichstraße. On Friday the community will be networking with the IGLTA for an evening reception at the Axel Hotel, hosted by Tourism Toronto and Ontario. Admission here is also by invitation only. The next morning, on ITB Saturday, visitBerlin and the pink pillow Berlin collection hotels will invite guests to meet for a LGBT ITB-Breakfast in Steigenberger Hotel Am Kanzleramt.

Gay and Lesbian Tourism Panel at the ITB Berlin Convention
At the ITB Berlin Convention the ITB Destination Days will be addressing once again the topic of gay and lesbian travel. On Friday, 6 March 2015, taking the gay and lesbian market as an example, international experts Richard Gray, managing director of LGBT Market, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau; Shiho Ikeuchi, director of Overseas Marketing Hotel Granvia Kyoto; Kristin Hansen, of the Ella Festival, Majorca, and Rika Jean-François, responsible for CSR and LGBT travel at ITB Berlin and member of the board of IGLTA, will be debating “the potential of social media to successfully influence niche markets.” Matt Skallerud of Pink Banana Media, Los Angeles, will be holding an introductory paper. Moderating the event will be Thomas Bömkes, managing director of Diversity Tourism GmbH and long-standing advisor in LGBT matters to ITB Berlin.

ITB Berlin’s commitment to cultural diversity is not confined to the dates of the show. Thus, on request the ITB Academy organises events at various destinations with information on global developments. The show has also committed to strategic partnerships regarding the development of the LGBT travel product with Wien Tourismus and visitBerlin. In the context of its social responsibilities the world’s largest travel trade show also sees itself in a pioneering role and promotes tolerance and the implementation of human rights. ITB Berlin is a member of the IGLTA and supports the IGLTA Foundation.

About ITB Berlin and the ITB Berlin Convention
ITB Berlin 2015 will take place from Wednesday to Sunday, 4 to 8 March. From Wednesday to Friday ITB Berlin is open to trade visitors only. Parallel with the show the ITB Berlin Convention, the largest event of its kind, will be held from Wednesday, 4 to Saturday, 7 March 2015. More details are available at www.itb-convention.com. ITB Berlin is the global travel industry’s leading trade show. In 2014 a total of 10,147 companies and organisations from 189 countries exhibited their products and services to 174,000 visitors, who included 114,000 trade visitors.

About ITB Berlin's commitment to diversity and LGBT travel:

Become a fan of ITB Berlin at www.facebook.de/ITBBerlin.
Follow ITB Berlin on https://twitter.com/ITB_Berlin.
Get the latest updates from the Social Media Newsroom at http://newsroom.itb-berlin.de.

You can find press releases on the internet at www.itb-berlin.com under the section heading Press Service / Press Releases. Make use of our information service and subscribe to our RSS feeds.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Gaycation Magazine Appoints New Executive Editor

Gaycation Magazine, the premier LGBTQ travel magazine (www.gaycationmagazine.com), announced this week that Aaron Drake has signed on as the publication’s new Executive Editor. Drake comes with prior experience in LGBT travel media, as a contributor for Amtrak Ride With Pride, Man About World, Out Traveler and Connextions Magazine, and also as former editor of Frontiers Magazine in Los Angeles. He joins the Gaycation staff as the company begins its expansion, with the recent acquisition of The Word (www.theword.com), a LGBT newspaper based in Indianapolis, and Rainbow Tourism (www.rainbowtourism.com), a LGBT travel website based in Sydney, Australia.

Aaron joins Gaycation as Executive Editor to manage the magazine publishing process and assign content that emboldens the magazine’s mission of sharing real travel experiences and practical travel advice with readers. Aaron says, “I am excited to join Gaycation Magazine and get the word out about many of the remarkable LGBT destinations across the globe, both well-traveled and off-the-beaten-path. Gaycation has a strong, growing reader base and I very much look forward to connecting with them about their adventures. I am equally as excited to be working with the excellent team of DJ Doran and his partner Joe Morales in making this happen.”

DJ Doran, publisher and editor-in-chief of Gaycation says, “I extend a warm welcome to Aaron as he joins our growing Gaycation family. I know that Aaron’s broad experience in gay travel media will only enhance our team, and I am looking forward to witnessing his passion for travel reflected within the pages of the magazine.”

Before his role at Frontiers, Aaron Drake also contributed to The Advocate, Gay Cities, Columbus, Ohio-based Outlook Monthly and as an Editorial Assistant at Out in America Cities Network.

Drake has a B.A. in Mass Communication & Social Issues from The Ohio State University. He and his husband currently live in Los Angeles, but will be relocating to St. Petersburg, Florida, later this spring.


About Gaycation Magazine
Gaycation Magazine (www.gaycationmagazine.com) is a distinctive voice in LGBTQ travel, inspiring travelers to immerse themselves in authentic experiences that create a deep connection between readers, destinations and local culture. Our content is created by professional travel writers and personal travel experiences submitted by readers. Gaycation Magazine works with top brands, hotels and destinations to provide inspiration and advice that expertly serves the discerning traveler.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Gaycation Magazine Acquires RainbowTourism.com

Gaycation Magazine, the premier LGBTQ travel magazine (www.gaycationmagazine.com), shows it is serious about becoming a global LGBTQ travel and news powerhouse with the acquisition this week of Sydney, Australia-based Rainbow Tourism (www.rainbowtourism.com). This marks the company’s second acquisition in 2015, having taken over the Indianapolis-based LGBT newspaper The Word just a week ago. The acquisitions will create a combined social media footprint of 75,000 Facebook Likes, 20,000 Twitter followers and 10,000 Pinterest and Google+ followers, with projected page views on all three websites exceeding 500,000 monthly visitors under the Gaycation brand.

Founded in 2005, Rainbow Tourism grew from a few individual regional websites covering the South Pacific and Southeast Asia into a global umbrella site. Over the past decade it has amassed thousands of pages of original content highlighting experiences and events for gay and lesbian travelers.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Rainbow Tourism has earned its reputation for exceptional travel content. “It has been a labor of love by a team of gay travelers about the places we know and places we go for work and play,” says Mark Proffit, director and technical editor. He adds, “Early on we adopted a motto and lived by it: ‘Go gay. Stay gay. Play gay.’”

 “We are thrilled that Gaycation Magazine and Rainbow Tourism embrace the same passion for delivering original and relevant travel content for our community. This latest addition substantiates our sheer determination to expand through strategic acquisitions that focus on the LGBT market,” says DJ Doran, Gaycation Magazine publisher.

“As part of the Gaycation family, Rainbow Tourism will jointly work towards growing both brands and delivering value to our readers and partners,” says Dee Farrell, director and editor at Rainbow Tourism. “Rainbow Tourism and its blog, www.gaytravel.in, will continue to report on current gay travel news and useful resources for our readers and social media friends.” (Farrell is an IGLTA Pioneer Award Recipient and was a charter member and director at the organization’s inception in 1983. www.iglta.org)

“We were drawn to Rainbow Tourism because of their quality content, exceptional social media reach and impeccable reputation within the worldwide gay travel community. We are delighted to welcome them into the Gaycation Magazine family,” says Doran.

About Gaycation Magazine:
Gaycation Magazine (www.gaycationmagazine.com) is a distinctive voice in LGBTQ travel, inspiring travelers to immerse themselves in authentic experiences that create a deep connection between readers, destinations and local culture. Our content is created by professional travel writers and personal travel experiences submitted by readers. Gaycation Magazine works with top brands, hotels and destinations to provide inspiration and advice that expertly serves the discerning traveler.

About Rainbow Tourism
The Rainbow Tourism (www.rainbowtourism.com) team members are gay travel industry pioneers, journalists and global travelers hailing from North America, South America and the South Pacific. “We write about what we know, not just where we live, providing on-target stories and photos for fellow globetrotters.”

Monday, September 15, 2014

11th Annual Arosa Gay Ski Week – Europe’s favorite Winter Pride Festival

The idyllic and gay friendly Swiss resort of Arosa invites you from January 11th to 18th, 2015 to its fun-filled LGBT ski week. Since 2005, this lively and colorful week has become one of the biggest Gay and Lesbian winter events in Europe.

Our new concept, introduced in 2012, proved a resounding success:  all events took place at different locations throughout Arosa: in the new Kursaal, in the Waterworld at Hotel Altein, at the town Ice Rink and in various ski huts, restaurants and hotel lounges.  This year, for the first time, the „White” closing party will take place at top of the Weisshorn mountain!  The newly linked skiing domain of Arosa-Lenzerheide with its 225km/140miles of slopes, fantastic snow conditions, lots of sunny days, and more than 500 participants from over 30 different countries all justify calling it Europe’s favorite Winter Pride Festival!

Our many years of experience and excellent feedback from participants are reflected in the program: A welcome cocktail party with Sherry Vine & Arroba, friendship dinners (for anyone who hasn’t already hooked up with somebody at the welcome party), daily Après-Ski with DJs, and late bar nights out.  So many possibilities - so little time!  Fortunately on holiday you can turn night into day without feeling guilty, or you might miss the classic concert in the village church with Michel Dalberto and Michail Lifits, the fondue fun at the Tschuggenhütte with night-time sledging or the „Splash Pool Party“. Highlights this year will include the world-wide infamous „Downhill Costume Race“, and an impressive farewell party at the world’s highest White Party, on top of the Weisshorn at 2’653m / 8’704ft!

Ski bums and snowboarders can discover the vast ski area in groups with our team of sporty guides or take some lessons with one of the experienced teacher of the ABC Snow Sport School. Just the breathtakingly beautiful winter landscape in Arosa should be enough to convince the most resigned couch potato to chance one downhill ru n. Experienced skiers and snowboarders will not be bored: in addition to the challenging slopes of Arosa-Lenzerheide, they can even book a ski trip to St. Moritz by helicopter!  But non-skiers are not left out: in addition to extensive walking and hiking trails, the Tschugenhütte midday rendezvous can also be reached easily and pleasantly on foot!

An extended day in the mountains (don’t forget the sun cream!) can be quite exhausting. There are three good reasons to book a room at one of our eleven gay friendly participating hotels: they offer special packages where you get the Event Pass at a special rate, they are fully prepared to accommodate our gay and lesbian guests attending the festival, Event Pass holders get free entry to all parties, Apres-Skis and concerts, as well as free sun-loungers at the Tschuggenhütte during the week, plus a 10% discount for the ski pass and 20% discount on ski hire at the Bananas Ski- and Snowboard center.


Travel – how do I get to Arosa?

Arosa is at the end of the Schanfigg Valley, in Canton Graubünden, in Eastern Switzerland, between Davos and St. Moritz. Excellent transport connections enable you to arrive at your holiday destination relaxed and ready for the week ahead. It is an easy drive from Zurich to Arosa by car, and the scenic train journey is child’s play: ICE and IC trains go from Zurich Airport to Chur, where you change to the Arosa line. This beautiful, romantic stretch of the journey takes about an hour and is well worth every spectacular moment.



For all further information: www.arosa-gayskiweek.com

Monday, August 11, 2014

History Made in Las Vegas - First International Gay New Year's Eve Celebration

Guests from Six Continents Celebrate on the Las Vegas Strip


Las Vegas, recently voted Favorite American Destination by OutTraveler Magazine, is the host city for an exciting new event, Evolve Vegas NYE (New Year’s Eve).  #EvolveVegas is a 3-day gay New Year’s Eve experience that will bring men from more than 30 countries, on six continents, to the city that provides non-stop fun, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Hosted at the world famous, MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, Evolve Vegas NYE takes place December 30, 2014 – January 1, 2015 and offers shows, receptions, parties, dining, shopping, tours and more.  And for those who want to continue the fun, a weekend in West Hollywood, California, one of the hottest gay meccas in the U.S., takes place January 2-4, 2015.

“I am so excited, as this will be the first time in my 30 year Las Vegas career that I will be performing for an all gay audience.  Finally, I can do pop-culture jokes that everyone will get!  This night is going to be one Big Party!” says Frank Marino headliner of the Divas Las Vegas. Celebrating the 25,000th show this year, Frank Marino’s Divas is one of the most spectacular production shows in the city, and is just one of the many events included in the Evolve Vegas NYE experience.

The event will kick off with a private VIP reception, featuring Zumanity performers and champagne, followed by the sensual Cirque du Soleil performance that offers a seductive twist on reality.  Zumanity makes the provocative playful and the forbidden electrifying and allows you to leave all inhibitions at the door and let loose as this adult-themed production takes you on a sexy thrill ride full of sensational acrobatics and naughty fun.

After the show, guests will party at the official opening reception at Liaison Nightclub at Bally’s Hotel & Casino.  With unrivaled décor, a top-tier sound system and impeccable service, Liaison, the first gay nightclub in a Las Vegas Strip resort, offers guests an elegant experience with hot entertainment and DJs spinning until the wee hours of the morning.

Day Two is a free day to shop, explore the city or experience the beautiful landscapes of Southern Nevada including the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Red Rock, Valley of Fire, even Mt. Charleston which features snow skiing….yes snow in Las Vegas!
 
New Year’s Eve will kick off with another VIP party, before opening up to the main celebration at the Havana Nightclub on the Las Vegas Strip.  This event will also welcome local gays, as well as hot DJs, exciting entertainment, special guests, seductive dancers, complimentary cocktails and a private VIP fireworks-viewing from the patio of the club.

If that’s not enough, Day Three offers the Mob Museum in Old Vegas, The High Roller at the Linq, the VooDoo Zipline at The Rio, or Madame Tussauds at The Venetian. There are many more to choose from and the activity of choice is included in the package.  That evening a historical first is taking place with the private showing of Divas Las Vegas, only available to Evolve Vegas NYE guests. This energetic show starring Las Vegas’ longest running headliner, Frank Marino, features an all-star cast of superstar female impersonators who not only recreate, but almost uncannily duplicate the likenesses of stars ranging from Liza Minnelli to Britney Spears.   Guests also have the option to see Jubilee! The Showgirl Reborn, with seductive male and female dancers, rhinestones, feathers and exquisite stage productions.  After the shows, the festivities will continue at Share Nightclub, a gay ultra lounge with a hip nightclub downstairs and a private Ultra Lounge and bar on the second floor.

CONTINUE THE PARTY IN WEHO
For those who would like to extend their stay, a limited number of tickets are available for a weekend in West Hollywood, California.  Transportation will be provided on luxury motor coaches for the short 4-hour ride through the Mojave Desert, and luxury accommodations have been booked at the Sofitel Hotel at Beverly Hills, a stunning property offering elegant European accommodations and dramatic décor.  On Friday night, guests will have the opportunity to sample all of West Hollywood’s gay nightlife and festivities with special offers for Evolve Vegas NYE participants.

Shop along Rodeo Drive, visit the Santa Monica Pier, experience the West Hollywood scene or relax in your room on Saturday afternoon and enjoy a blowout party at the Here Lounge at night.  After a tasty brunch on the patio of the Sofitel, guests will head back to Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon for one last fling, or fly home from Los Angeles and start the New Year pumped up from an amazing week on the West Coast of the USA!

According to Evolve Vegas NYE Marketing Director, Donovan Kaneshiro, “Evolve Vegas NYE has been very carefully designed to provide a unique experience for our guests from the USA, as well as those coming in from Amsterdam to Australia and everywhere in between.  There has never been a New Year’s Eve event like Evolve Vegas NYE in North America, and we are excited to bring this first-of-its-kind experience to Las Vegas.”

Evolve Vegas NYE packages are inclusive of hotel, land transportation and all events.  Remaining availability is limited, book your package by visiting http://www.EvolveEvgasNYE.com, which is available in seven languages.  You may also contact Evolve Vegas NYE at donovan@evolvevegasnye.com for more information.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Perfect Beach Weekend Getaway: Sand Blast July 18-20 - Atlantic City

New York City may be surrounded by water, but hitting the beach has never been one of the city's charms, and destinations like Fire Island or The Hamptons can seem like an exclusive club unless you've got a house there. Sand Blast, the 3-day beach party extravaganza on the Jersey Shore, has developed a well-earned reputation for being one of the most friendly & fun gay events on the east coast and helped turn Asbury Park into a gay mecca. Now with its move down the Jersey Shore to Atlantic City, how will this year's blast change?

“When I first began producing Sand Blast and inviting people to come to Asbury Park we had a lot of negative reactions from people who’d see the town in years past when it was downtrodden and could’t imagine this town ever coming back again.  But one thing about us gays:  We absolutely LOVE a fixer up and Asbury Park was just that”  says Brad Hurtado, the founder & producer of Sand Blast, now in it’s thirteenth year.  "But those who did join us in those early years found a welcoming community, a fantastic beach scene and throngs of fun loving men and women aching to escape the city heat and have a big gay vacation on the shore.   This July in Atlantic City we’re giving our guests the perfect summer beach getaway they’re hungry for,” he affirms.

After building Sand Blast in Asbury Park for over a decade the move down the shore wasn't a decision Hurtado made lightly.  “Sand Blast was a key component of Asbury Park’s rebirth and gentrification and I love how gay friendly the city's become, but with only 350 hotel rooms in town and our guests filling them all we simply outgrew them.  Our guests like to come for the entire weekend and when there weren't any more rooms they would make other plans.  Atlantic City stepped in and offered us incredible hotel rates, plenty of rooms, stunning venues to party in and tons of support.  This will be the biggest and best Sand Blast ever.”

Sand Blast’s main event is their iconic Beach Party on Saturday, July 19th with music by the internationally renowned producer & DJ Joe Gauthreaux, and located on the amazing Bungalow Beach with a feel and look that is right out of Mykonos.   Sunday’s super fun Riptide Pool Party & Tea Dance will be at the outrageously beautiful Harrah’s Pool with music by DC’s Ed Bailey and Brett Henrichsen.

Their three nights of parties start with the Urge Underwear Party on Friday with DJ Nando,  Saturday night’s Deep Blue with Barcelona’s Phil Romano & NYC’s Eddie Martinez, and Sunday nights closing party, Kahuna with DJ Escape.


One of the features of Sand Blast that makes it so popular is that it draws the circuit crowd, the sporty gays plus those who just want a beach weekend surrounded by eye candy and fun entertainment options.   Atlantic City’s historic gay beach in front of The Claridge Hotel was just re-dedicated by the city’s first gay mayor, so definitely check that out, plus the city’s gay entertainment options this weekend are plentiful and include a gay burlesque show at Scores, the hilarious beach Drag Race & Handbag Toss and the erotic Savage Men show.   And if that’s not enough, join one of the gay beach volleyball tournaments for both men and women on Saturday.


With so many hotels in Atlantic City in competition for Sand Blast the producers have been able to negotiate an amazing rate staring at $170 a night at The Claridge Hotel, which is the location for Friday night's notorious URGE Underwear Party with DJ Nando and hosted by The Maverick Men, Xtube’s Most Popular Couple, who are returning to Sand Blast for their fourth year.

Getting to Atlantic City has always been easy with hourly jitneys leaving from Port Authority direct to the shore, but if you want to ride down with other NYC boys the Sand Blast team has selected three departures on Friday (4:30, 6:30 and 8:30PM) and three Saturday morning (7:30, 8:30 and 9AM) that they’re encouraging guys to book to make the trip a gay old time.   Check out the Sand Blast travel page to book one of these $51 round trips which include free gaming and food vouches.    Guests who are staying at The Claridge Host Hotel are being offered a free party bus to Atlantic City complete with live DJ exclusively reserved for Sand Blast guests so let the games begin!

To book today, click here:
http://sandblastweekend.com/Hotel_2.html

Website:  www.SandBlastWeekend.com

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Struggle for LGBT Rights in Myanmar

By Steven Wozencraft and Chris Westling

Aung Myo Min peered over his soda with a wide smile on his face. As the Executive Director of Equality Myanmar, he recounted spending most of the past quarter century as a political exile in Thailand. Excited to be back, he hurriedly told us about the many issues facing Myanmar’s LGBT community and how they intersected with the human rights concerns of women, ethnic minorities and religious minorities in the rapidly changing Southeast Asian country.

Known to many as Burma, Myanmar has been ruled by a military junta for the better part of five decades. But since 2010, the government has slowly announced reform after reform bringing the country closer and closer to democracy.

Our team flew into Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, last month with a delegation of social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and philanthropists. We had come with the Aspen Institute, the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, and the US Department of State.

As we drove through the city we witnessed the tangible impacts of recent liberalization. Billboards advertised the pending launch of the country’s first independent mobile phone operators. Newsstands were packed full with daily publications that had been, until recently, logistically impossible due to government censors. At the same time, the country is rife with human rights concerns – the government has been accused by human rights groups of systematically cutting off medical aid to the country’s minority Muslim population in the west.

Among the country’s human rights concerns are the rights of Myanmar’s LGBT population. There have been numerous reports of individuals being violently targeted for their actual or perceived sexuality. With decreased media censorship, these cases have become increasingly well documented. At the center of the discrimination is an official countrywide ban on homosexual conduct – a relic from British rule still present in many former colonies. Referred to as by its legal title of Section 377, this law has had a detrimental impact on the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country and has become one of the primary focuses of local human rights groups.

We met with Aung Myo Min of Equality Myanmar in Yangon. By collaborating with human rights advocates focused on women’s rights, ethnic minority rights, and religious minority rights, Equality Myanmar is helping to build more inclusive and secure Myanmar. “I spent decades living in as a political exile because of my human rights work,” said Aung Myo Min when we met him at a coffee shop in the city’s center. “But I have returned – there is just too much work here to be done.

Read Steve's expanded article on Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-wozencraft/cautious-optimism-in-myan_b_5432538.html