The Guardian: Gay Mongolians see flickers of progress amid fear and ostracism

On a Friday night in June, Ulan Bator’s only gay bar is a dark building in a sea of dark buildings. Its shades are drawn, its door shut tightly. But inside, the 100% Bar is flush with joie de vivre. Tall Mongolian men in designer shirts stand with their arms around one another, blowing clouds of cigarette smoke. A rainbow flag mingles with the vodka bottles behind the bar. Mongolia, a traditionally pastoral country of 2.7 million people sandwiched between Russia and China, is a tough place to be gay. Homosexuality was considered taboo from the 1920s until 1990, when the country was under Soviet rule. Before 2002, it was technically illegal. But over the past few years, a small group of human rights activists in Ulan Bator have braved ostracism, intimidation and violence to forge a gay community. In 2009 they established Mongolia’s first gay rights organisation – the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Centre. They have engineered a high-profile media campaign on Mongolian TV and pushed for anti-discrimination legislation in parliament. “Basically, the situation is improving there,” said Robyn Garner, a co-founder of the LGBT Centre, who now lives in the Philippines. “But it’s still a dangerous place to be LGBT.” To read the full article, click hereGay Mongolians see flickers of progress amid fear and ostracism

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