A controversial monk who has previously run afoul of religious authorites for getting too cozy with his female followers has been captured on video mocking the death of Kyaw Zin Win, the university librarian who’s suicide in the wake of homophobic bullying has sparked a national conversation on LGBTQ rights.
In a video with over 2,800 shares that was uploaded to Facebook on Sunday, Koebweya Sayadaw Ashinasayar can be seen delivering a homophobic rant during his sermon, telling a laughing crowd he would shoot all LGBTQ people if he were president, and labeling Win a “gandu,” Hindi for “sissy.”
“Did you hear about the case on the internet about that Kyaw Zin Win who committed suicide, that gay, that gandu?” Ashinasayar asks the crowd with a smirk.
The Buddhist monk then asks if they felt bad for the 26-year-old man who took his own life, to which the crowd replies in unison, “No!” The abbott then does a double-take, feigning shock, and asks the crowd again if they felt bad, to which they then reply with a chastened “Yes.”
But when he poses the question a third time, and they again reply with a “yes,” he pulls the rug out, telling the crowd they should “drop dead” if they pity the young man, a “joke” met with raucous laughter.
Ashinasayar then went on to mock the outpouring of grief among the LGBTQ community over the suicide.
“Why should you feel bad for him? When they sent him to the morgue, they asked for two minutes of silence for their martyr. What kind of martyr is he? He’s gay, he’s a sissy, he killed himself, what martyr?” he tells the laughing crowd.
He wasn’t finished.
In the two-minute standup routine that followed, he compared himself to Phillipino president Rodrigo Duterte, and suggested he would “line up all the gays and shoot them” if he were president, a comment that was met with raucous laughter.
“I hate the gays a lot,” he helpfully adds, before asking the audience one last time if there were any gay people in the crowd and suggesting they “beat them to death.”
In conservative Myanmar, a majority Buddhist country, the LGBTQ community have struggled for recognition and equal rights for decades. In the past few years, as the country has opened up, progress has been slow but incremental. This year, Yangon hosted its first pride parade on the Yangon river, with thousands attending the &Proud festival held in January.
However, with the suicide of Kyaw Zin Win capturing widespread national attention, LGBTQ activists have called for legislative changes to better protect LGBTQ citizens in the workplace and help secure their place in Myanmar society through psychological support, workshops and youth empowerment.