This police handout photo shows Aung Myo Zin, who police say murdered a 32-year-old lawyer on May 12.
A GAY man viciously stabbed to death with a pair of scissors in May “created the opportunity for the murder to be committed” through his lifestyle, a Myanmar Police Force official said last week.

The man, who The Myanmar Times has chosen not to identify, was stabbed 72 times in the attack.

In an interview last week, Police Lieutenant Myo Myint Aung from Yangon Region Eastern District Police Office said the 32-year-old victim was a “lustful gay … the kind of person who made friends with young men he met on the side of the road without knowing where they were from or who they were”.

“As he also lived alone in his home, without any other family, it created the opportunity for the murder to be committed,” Pol Lt Myo Myint Aung said. “They shouldn’t live alone, they should live with family members.”

The comments are likely to anger members of the country’s gay community, who say they regularly suffer discrimination at the hands of the police force. Homosexuality is illegal in Myanmar under section 377 of the Criminal Code.

Pol Lt Myo Myint Aung insisted that he was not blaming the victim but wanted to warn members of the gay community not to engage in behaviour that may endanger their safety.

Aunty Sein, a 77-year-old transgender beautician from Yangon, said it was common for gay people to be insulted in Myanmar, especially by heterosexual men.

“Many people in Myanmar, when they see gay people, they say we are disgusting, unnatural, low standard – so many awful, discriminatory things. But I want to tell all of the people who speak like that: you are wrong,” she told The Myanmar Times last week.

She said that while there were some encouraging signs, including the holding of beauty pageants for transgender people, the stigma attached to homosexuality remained strong.

“In Myanmar last year there was a competition for transgender people, and it was organised by the upper class of society – mostly business men and women. But they did it quietly because these kind of events are not really accepted in Myanmar.”

Pol Lt Myo Myint Aung said police had arrested a 30-year-old man in relation to the killing, which took place in Mingalar Taung Nyunt township shortly after midnight on May 12. He said Aung Myo Zin from Tarmwe township had confessed to police after being arrested on the afternoon of May 12 and was charged with murder under section 302 of the Criminal Code.

While Aung Myo Zin was previously in a casual relationship with the victim, the killing appears to have been motivated by money, police said.

Pol Lt Myo Myint Aung said the victim had been drinking with Aung Myo Zin and one of his clients at a bar earlier in the evening. The men went home separately at about 11:30pm on May 11 but the victim then called Aung Myo Zin after midnight and invited him to his home.

Aung Myo Zin then allegedly asked the victim to loan him K300,000 to pay off gambling debts.

When he declined, Aung Myo Zin killed the man in his home before taking the money and leaving on foot, Pol Lt Myo Myint Aung said.

– Additional reporting by Moh Moh Thaw, translated by Thiri Min Htun