Gawker recently profiled d.d/h.z., Mongolia’s only gay bar. It’s owned by “penis shaman” Zoriga Alima, a guy who claims he can “confidently predict men’s penis sizes and sexual predilections” (though the article’s author remains doubtful). The bar itself operates as a sort of diplomatic embassy; the owner says its visibility has helped straight neighbors and police “understand that [LGBT] people are not monsters. They are not pedophiles and they are not perverted. They are just people.”
Apart from a single shot of some dildos next to a bowl of condoms, multi-colored disco lights and a frozen cocktail served in day-glo-colored layers, the article doesn’t get too much into the gay bar’s nightlife. Instead, it focuses on the recent development of LGBT rights in Mongolia, a country that punished homosexuality with imprisonment until 1989.
While Mongolia has no anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation or gender identity, the country offers new birth certificates and ID cards to trans people who undergo gender reassignment surgery, a policy which excludes those who cannot afford or do not want such surgery.
After numerous governmental hurdles, prominent transgender Mongolian activist, Anaraa Nyamdorj, founded the country’s only LGBT center in 2009. The Center then presented an official report on “Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment of LGBT People in Mongolia“ to the United Nations in November 2010. It mentioned that many LGBT Mongolians do not report violence or discrimination to the police or government officials for fear of further prejudice.
In 2015, the country’s laws began recognizing “crimes of discrimination” forbidding hate crimes and hate speech directed at LGBT people, though it remains to be seen how well these laws will protect them. Despite these advances, the Gawker article states:
“For many Mongolians, gay visibility is seen as an invasion, a foreign influence corrupting traditional life. Bullying at school remains prevalent, labor discrimination is rife, police hostility abounds and healthcare and social services are frequently withheld.”
All the same, the bar has provided a temporary haven and meeting place for Mongolia’s LGBT citizens, and its close relationship with the LGBT center has helped others “feel free and safe to go out – or come out.”
(featured image via Instagram)