This story is dedicated to the memory of Somphorn Boupha (photo left) whom I interviewed for this description of gay life in Laos. He passed away from cancer in 2019. He welcomed me and helped me gain a fuller appreciation of being gay in his country. In addition to my interview (see Kobchai Beer Garden
The situation of human rights in Laos has been recognized as a cause for concern since the socialist forces took charge in the 1970’s. For gays, penalties, fines and imprisonment have in the past been imposed on Lao citizens who were seen to breach the social norm or become inappropriately intimate with foreigners. However, more recently, gays are quietly becoming visible within Lao society and gay business entrepreneurs and managers are setting the trend with stylish boutique operations. Nevertheless, the government is not going to allow a sex industry to emerge publicly as it has in neighboring countries. The Lao are modest in their behavior and expect visitors to be the same.
Intro: In Laos there are no exclusively gay venues, no gay organizations, no activists, no out periodicals, no push for equality, no gay restaurants or hotels. Ironically, Laos is possibly one of the ‘safest’ places to be gay outside of pro-gay western countries. Although there are no specific laws that criminalize homosexuality, the topic is
Intro: For a week in the capital of communist Laos, Vientiane, I met a small circle of lesbigays whose lives centered around restaurants, friendships and different relationships that were romantic, poignant yet cheerful. Also see: Story: Gay Luang Prabang 2010 Story: Gay Vientiane 2010 Gay Laos News and Reports Laos Photo Galleries By Richard