Since the Sri Lankan cabinet of ministers rejected a proposal to repeal Articles 365 and 365A of the Penal Code, a Victorian relic that violates the human rights citizens on the basis of sexual orientation, an unprecedented rise of activism can be observed. The cabinet decision, despite being a major setback for a government that describes itself as one of ‘yahapalanaya’ or good governance, has led to a large-scale public conversation on the importance of the issue. Many Sinhala newspapers have so far carried news items and features supportive of anti-discriminatory measures. Some of the most important contributions have been made in the Sinhala blogsphere, with bloggers advocating for the repeal of Victorian laws and ensuring the fundamental rights of all Sri Lankan citizens (for pertinent examples see, for instance, here, here, and here).
AS far as the state-owned media is concerned, a shallow and irresponsible tendency to sensationalise the issue can be observed. In reporting the position of the chairman of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission on the issue (who is supportive of repealing 365), the Daily News deliberately uses the term ‘decriminalising homosexuality’. In a country where extremists are quick to use these terms as a weapon in attacking the LGBTIQ community, it would have been much more advisable for the national state-owned daily to describe the act in more accurate terms – that the Commission Chair was in favour of repealing British laws that discriminate against citizens on the basis of sexual orientation.
Several social media groups, especially one private group devoted to interactions between the LGBTIQ community and their allies, has been extremely active, with a regular series of posts and efforts to raise awareness on the issue.
The most important gesture is a public petition requesting the President, the cabinet of ministers and the government at large to track back on its cabinet decision and to repeal Articles 365 and 365A (this petition now appears in both Sinhala and Tamil). The petition also requests the government to work towards eliminating discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identities though constitutional reform. Indeed, consultations to add an equality clause to the proposed new constitution have continued for a while, and as it has been reported at international platforms, such a clause faces considerable challenges, especially from politicians with a low awareness of sexual orientation and gender identity issues.
Curbing discrimination and stigma on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity is an essential element of fundamental rights provision in any legislature. The importance of such provisions has received increased international attention, with the UN HRC appointing a Special Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) issues. The appointee, Vitit Muntarbhorn, a law professor at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, represents a country where, despite ancient traditions of gender diversity and tolerance, widespread discrimination and exploitation persist. The Thai government, together with the Vietnamese government, are on the forefront of enacting SOGI-related protections in Southeast Asia and working towards strengthening the fundamental rights of their LGBTIQ citizens.
While the world moves forward, Sri Lanka moves backwards with none other than the Minister of Justice himself making staggeringly homophobic remarks in public.
By taking an openly homophobic stance, the government of Sri Lanka cannot afford to face neither fellow Sri Lankan citizens nor the international community (in both East and West), especially the progressive nations that are conscious of protecting the fundamental rights of their citizens. The cabinet decision is a national embarrassment. One Sri Lankan LGBTIQ rights advocate makes a timely and important suggestion, calling for a ‘robust social media campaign’.
This is a national necessity, and we request our readers worldwide to express their displeasure to the government of Sri Lanka and share their commitment to SOGI-related fundamental human rights of Sri Lankan citizens via social media, using the hashtag #Repeal365.
Sunil / January 23, 2017
What a narrow minded Government!!?
If they have such a big problem giving the Gays their right we can only imagine what they must have done to the ethnic minorities in the country…( also other numerical minorities)
You want the right to keep homosexuality illegal so that you can deprive them of their rights and harass these poor people too!?
What a sick bunch of politicians!!
This sickness of hating minorities and wanting to deprive them of their rights and treat the as of a lower class is the serious problem in the country…
You can see even the Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has no idea of protecting the rights of all Sri Lankans but a few with extremist views!!
Sunil / January 23, 2017
We can see what is going to happen with the constitution the way things are going…
we will have a constitution in favor of extremism, homophobia, gender inequality, religious discrimination against minority religions atheist, agnostics (everything other than Buddhism), against freethinking Sinhalese and total disregard of the rights of various numerical minorities..
It is beginning to paint a clear picture as to why the opposition to human rights is so strong in Sri Lanka.
They want the right to discriminate, give second place treatment to anyone they chose…
Ben Hurling / January 23, 2017
Look at this tribute by Ellen to Obama. Specially about all the brave work he did for the LGBT community in USAA:
Please contrast Obama’s excellent work % track record for LGBTQ people, with our ueducated, hypocritical, backward cowards in GOSL Cabinet. What a bunch of jokers we got!
Apparently our monkeys in the Cabinet claim to be guardians of morality. Hahahahahahahahahahaha!
Amarasiri / January 23, 2017
“Since the Sri Lankan cabinet of ministers rejected a proposal to repeal Articles 365 and 365A of the Penal Code, a Victorian relic that violates the human rights citizens on the basis of sexual orientation, an unprecedented rise of activism can be observed. “
You guys are all f*****d up.
The Para-Sinhala “Buddhist” Monks, on a regular basis are practicing, this “Art” in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho, and the other “Buddhist” Monks are practicing this “Art” elsewhere as well.
Now you want to ban it, because Queen Victoria did not like that?
Child Abuse by a Monk in Habaraduwa
Uploaded on May 29, 2010: Magama Hemasiri
She sent her grandson to school with the idea of providing him with proper education to make him a good person. The Buddhist monk in charge of the temple asked her to send the child to the temple and she sent him there because they were poor. There was no possibility for them to pay the money for tuition fees. That was the reason why they sent the boy to the temple school.When the child began to refuse going to the temple school so adamantly, grandmother had to look for the reason. It was then only that she discovered that the child who was sent to learn good behavior, ethics and Buddha’s Dharma from the monk had in fact been abused by the monk.
Buddhism The Great Evil — Part 1
Buddhism The Great Evil — Part 2
malik / January 23, 2017
sounds similar to catholic church
Silva / January 23, 2017
Much worse than the Catholic Church…
Even they are welcome the gays and transsexuals…
batti / January 23, 2017
not in jaffna
Mallaiyuran / January 23, 2017
The two main religions in Lankawe the Buddhism and Hinduism has nothing against Sexual orientations. As I know a little bit of Hinduism, I know some mythologies of it too.
Pandavas and Kauravas of Mahabharata decided no peace possible and war needed. Pandavas looked for a sacrifice to the war front to ensure the victory. The sacrificial one has to be an excellent warrior. The best in the Pandavas side, Aravan was selected. The young warrior went to Krishna, the God, and said that he was ready to die for victory of Pandavas, but he has just to be married to woman. Krishna said to him that cannot arranged as nobody would give a woman for a man going to die the next day. But, asked if Aravan would marry him. They married and spent the night at a village called Villupuram, Tamil Nadu. As per the myth, those days, Hindus build a Temple to honor the angel level warrior Aravan at Villupuram. The warrior who married another masculine, Krishna is a God for Tamils and Angel Aravan is prayed at that village these days.
Another is Lord of Sabarimala, Ayyappa is the son of Siva and Krishna, two males.
Buddhism has two levels of practitioners. One is Monk level. Other one is mass level. For monks, anything and everything related to sex is forbidden. The religion opens it all to the mass level.
Even the Chastity of these religions varies at the practitioner’s level; not enforced. Madhavi’s mother was a Parathai, or prostitute. Madhavi fell in Love with Kovalan and her sex life with him only. Madhavi’s daughter Manimegalai was a Buddhist nun.
The problem arising when Yahapalanaya forcefully appoint a Minister to Buddha Sasana; he has to invent something to justify his existence. Do religious ministries necessary?
jim softy / January 24, 2017
Sri lanka needs LGBT rights if they are discriminated. LGBT discrimination is in christian anbd islamic countries. Sri lanka does not need this kind of crap.
Sex should be something limited to the bed room.
So, don’t get confused. Just leave the majority to live in their culture.
crazyoldmansl / January 24, 2017
Its is mighty strange that the sexual minorities and the religious minorities and the ethnic minorities are not united in defending minority rights.