27 October, 2020

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LGBT Rights In Sri Lanka: Under A Neo-Colonial Shadow?

By Chaminda Weerawardhana

Dr. Chaminda Weerawardhana

Dr. Chaminda Weerawardhana

A few weeks ago, the international day against homophobia and transphobia (#IDAHoT) was celebrated across the world, with polities adopting a progressive and inclusive policy using this day of reflection to promote their positions on enhancing their policies intended at fighting against homophobia and transphobia. In North America and indeed elsewhere across the world, tackling transphobia remains one of the most, if not the foremost civils rights struggle. This is not too different in Europe, with countries that are reputed to be highly progressive being very new to inclusive policies on Trans people. This is the case, for example, of Denmark, which very recently took steps to de-pathologise trans identities. In places such as Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and most recently Norway, gender recognition legislation has been introduced over the last few years, with many EU member states, including the UK and especially France, lagging behind. Gender, to cut the story short, is an essentially plural concept, and the binary gender formation of Abrahamic religious and sociocultural traditions is exactly that – a narrowly crafted social construct, which is inherently discriminatory. The gender binary categorically excludes a large number of people and forces gender norms on individuals. Trans and gender-plural people have existed in nearly every culture, and since time immemorial. It is simply a basic step in reinforcing fundamental human rights to take legal action to ensure that the basic rights of trans, queer and other gender-plural people are protected.

What are the implications of global developments on #LGBTIRights and #TransJusice to Sri Lanka? This is a question worth raising, as the government of Sri Lanka – as opposed to many other governments in the South Asian region – has chosen to systematically ignore the LGBTQI community of Sri Lanka. This is especially true of Transgender Sri Lankans. Sri Lanka still clings to archaic British-imposed Victorian legislation on issues of sexuality and sexual orientation, with no legislation recognising the presence of Transgender citizens and their fundamental rights. A slight development was lately visible, with a team from Equal Ground, the leading non-governmental organisation working on LGBTQI equality, gave evidence at a parliamentary hearing on proposed constitutional reforms. The said reforms involve a clear political agenda, and as things stand, are not likely to take a citizens’ rights based approach, but an approach that favours power dynamics of the UNP. In the following, I wish to share some perspectives on the challenges that LGBTQI rights, especially trans equality, encounter in the Sri Lankan context.

The silence of the powerful: a challenge to LGBTI rights in Sri Lanka?

The above-mentioned state of affairs – of criminalisation, stigma and discrimination does not mean that LGBTQI Sri Lankans are invisible. Cis Gay men have long been, and are currently, in highly powerful posts in government. The foreign affairs ministerial portfolio, for example, is held by a cis gay man. Many other cis men in the cabinet of ministers are known to be gay, although they are in cis-hetero-sexual and heteronormative relationships in the public eye. The latter trend is very much characteristic of the way in which the authorities perceive LGBTQI issues – by turning a blind eye. By deciding to not to see what is right in front of them. By ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room. There has been no LGBTQI politician who has been bold enough to give up their usual supine disposition, and stand up for the rights of the LGBTQI community. The present Minister of Foreign Affairs has been a rare exception, but even he has been cautious to avoid public statements, especially in Sinhala, on the issue. LGBTQI equality and human rights have almost never made it to parliamentary debates.

Some urbane, English-speaking, and somewhat ‘liberal’ elements of the political ‘right’ (which, in present-day Sri Lanka, represents a range of parties, including the two largest parties and their coalitions) respect LGBTQI rights in their privileged private circles, ignoring the gender and sexual minorities in the rest of the population. The political left (if not the ‘pesuedo-left in a neoliberal polity, especially represented by the JVP) continues to perceive LGBTQI issues as a non-issue, a Western imposition, and, to borrow from Jamaican homophobia, white man’s disease. When it comes to accommodating feminist discourses, the rights of marginalised communities and LGBTQI rights, the record of the Left has been particularly appalling. It can be argued that the clientelist attitudes of the local polity prevent LGBTQI politicians from taking a clear public stance on LGBTQI issues, and when the homophobic and transphobic lobbies play to the gallery, the LGBTQI politicians play the ostrich, hiding their heads deep underneath the sand. This behaviour is evident in the absence of any open statement of support to the LGBTQI community in the face of threats from homophobic and transphobic elements in the polity to disrupt the 2016 Colombo Pride events with violence. The only active LGBQI-rights advocacy group in the country, Equal Ground, has been doing what it can, using its contacts to launch a campaign with the support of foreign (read white western) diplomats and embassy staff based in Colombo.

The fact that Equal Ground and other LGBTQI rights activists need to knock on the heavily guarded gates of Colombo’s Western embassies to stand for the rights of Sri Lankan LGBTQI people is simply appalling. The fact that LGBTQI activists in Sri Lanka need to take refuge in the UN compound to hoist the rainbow flag on #IDAHOT is equally worrying, and amounts to an unpardonable abject insult from the government of Sri Lanka to LGBTQI Sri Lankan citizens. How come no politician (especially the current occupant of Temple Trees and his spouse) had the guts to receive members of the LGBTQI community openly on #IDAHOT or during #ColomboPride, with media coverage, host a national pride reception, hoist the rainbow and transgender flags, and use the two occasions to adopt a wholesome discourse on human rights and equality? Sri Lanka does not have a dominant Abrahamic tradition, and apart from sheer disregard, no reason can justify the silence of the political class. The argument of a possible political backlash against politicians expressing their support to the LGBTQI community does not hold ground. In what is a heavily a clientelist polity in which patronage politics reign, those who hold power have tremendous leverage on shaping public opinion (which they often deploy for negative ends). A strong emphasis on human rights, equality and justice, and linking LGBTQI equality with other vital gender and social justice priorities would have helped contain any possible backlash. Whether people in power take progressive steps or not, the homophobic and transphobic elements (who are also the agents of highly discriminatory and misogynist and chauvinistic ideologies) will not stop. This is yet another reason to not to be intimidated by threats of hatred, and act to protect the fundamental rights of citizens. On top of all that, the country’s dominant religious philosophy – Buddhism, in its philosophical essence, is one that gives pride of place to equality, equity and fundamental rights.

Silence of the political class: no longer tolerable?

Had the Colombo Pride celebrations been disrupted by acts of violence, this writer bets that the likes of the JVP would have kept their mouths shut, given the plain homophobia and transphobia its leaders have demonstrated in recent times. Homophobia and transphobia, just like misogyny, racism and other discriminatory attitudes, are vices that must be fought, vigorously. Contrary to a popular belief among Sri Lankans of the pro-Western wealthy Colombo elite bubble, it is also not a battle that can be won by taking refuge in the backyards of Western diplomatic missions in Colombo, or only by developing close links with Western LGBTQI rights advocacy groups with distinct POLITICAL AGENDAS. Such steps may certainly be of temporary help especially in boosting the personal agendas of individuals who purport to present themselves as the symbols of Sri Lanka’s LGBTI community, and may be advisable as temporary strategies or ‘plaster solutions’.

A semblance of real LGBTQI equality can only be achieved by campaigns that focus on queer liberation. A struggle for queer liberation imperatively involves a collective fight, fought locally, at the grassroots, with the mobilisation of LGBTQI people, and with the active participation of people holding political power who are either LGBTQI themselves or sympathetic to the causes of LGBTQI equality and justice. Most importantly, LGB, trans and queer people have a moral responsibility to connect their struggles for equality and justice with other vital gender and social justice struggles, from a cis woman’s (and a trans man’s, and other gender-plural people’s) right to a safe and legal termination, struggles against [cis and trans]misogyny, the fight for the fundamental rights and social justice for war widows in northern Sri Lanka, the fight against everyday sexism and violence against [cis and trans] women, and indeed the broader challenge of fighting misogyny and patriarchy on all fronts (in this article, I use terms referring to the gender binary – male, female, men, women etc. in an inclusive spirit – inclusive of both cis and trans men and women, as well as other non-binary and gender-plural people).

LGBTQI discrimination: patriarchal and misogynist connotations

In electoral politics, there is a clear and undeniable need to put in place quotas for representation, along the lines of gender and ethnicity. Anyone arguing against equality quotas, irrespective of whatever argument they come up with, are only paying lip service to equality. There is a clear need to promote the professional female politician – meaning, the emergence of the female leader through grassroots activism, public and business engagements, educational and professional credentials, and not because of being some influential cis man’s spouse or offspring. For an LGBTQI rights movement that focuses on queer liberation, these struggles are of vital importance, and the fight should be fought on a collective front. It is very important to identify, and promote increased understanding of the fact that sexism, misogyny, violence against women, discrimination against ethnic and religious minority women, and other manifestations of patriarchal oppression are closely intertwined with homophobia, transphobia, intolerance towards intersex babies, and the stigma attached to any manifestation of non-hetero-normativity. These issues cannot be separated from each other. In a context in which the local polity systematically relegates fighting misogyny, patriarchy and violence against women to less than a footnote, LGBTQI community leaders have a huge role to play in claiming that struggle, making it their own, and in working towards a broader and wholesome objective of gender and social justice. Arguments such as ‘oh gay rights have no place in Sri Lanka’, ‘Sri Lanka is not ready for anything like LGBT rights yet’ etc. are all ramblings of those who are indifferent to broader issues of gender-and sexuality-based discrimination. If one takes a closer look, one would notice that the advocates of views of this nature are also the same people who willingly subscribed to the ‘zero civilian casualties’ nonsense of the Rajapaksa regime in the aftermath of Eelam War IV and summarily denied (and continue to deny) violence, especially sexual violence against Tamil women by members of the Sri Lankan armed forces. In sum, the LGBTQI activist and advocate has a key role to play as a gender and social justice activist, profoundly challenging misogyny and patriarchy, as well as neoliberal politics of the wealthy political class, discriminatory practices within the LGBTQI community itself, in that process maintaining their integrity and not becoming pawns of powerful governments and agencies with agendas of their own.

Instead, what we see in Colombo today is somewhat disheartening. We have an LGBT organisation headed by folk who admire and support….Hillary Clinton! That’s the ultimate example of a biased, uncritical, and small-minded attitude, intent only upon reaping personal profit. Mrs Clinton’s duplicities and neo-imperialist agendas have been amply exposed by many people, and do not require reiteration here. She is a key agent of Washington DC’s agenda of ‘using’ LGBTQI rights in countries in the global South as a tool to promote the US government’s imperialist and selfish interests. If the LGBTQI community leaders are to abide by such agendas, Sri Lankan LGBT, trans and queer people can forget hopes of queer liberation and equality.

Secondly, and despite commendable efforts to reach out to the broader citizenry through regular publications, documentation and infographics in Sinhala and Tamil, Sri Lanka’s LGBTIQ activism continues to remain excessively, frustratingly, and appallingly elitist, and Colombo-urban-English-speaking-Westward-oriented elite-centred. This comes in the way of the good work done by this lobby, and in a postcolonial society where a strict code of neoliberal politics operate, is deeply problematic. It is very important, for the sake of the LGBTQI community of Sri Lanka, to have more ‘public faces’ who represent Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim backgrounds, preferably from the provinces, the non-Colombo-elite social strata, and preferably educated in Sri Lankan seats of higher learning, and who can articulately communicate in Sinhala and Tamil. The urbane elite Sinhalese, Tamils, and especially Burghers have had their field day since Dutch rule, and when it comes to the liberation struggle of a marginalised community, their utmost contribution lies in ‘acknowledging’ their positions of tremendous privilege, admitting that they owe whatever achievements they have realised so far in the personal and public spheres to their positions of privilege, and most importantly, in deploying these positions of privilege to facilitate the empowerment of those in the LGBTQI community who are not as privileged as they are, and not as well disposed to be openly LGB, trans or queer.

Building a mass movement: an absolute priority

As mentioned above, is very important to take every possible step to connect queer liberation struggles with other vital social and gender justice struggles, and to make the movement a mass movement, a people’s movement that is not confined to some elite pub or club in Colombo 3 or Colombo 7 where so-called ‘white expats’ hang about. In all of Equal Ground’s publicity material, there are Caucasian faces. Why? It does not take rocket science for anyone familiar with sociocultural stratifications in Sri Lankan society to comprehend the fact that the presence of ‘whiteness’ implies elitism, which, on occasion, may facilitate Equal Ground’s dealings with law enforcement, politicians and other authorities. Given the everyday challenges affecting the LGBTQI community, an argument could be developed in support of the presence of white folk in EG’s promotional material.

However, the monumental problem lies in the tendency in this type of strategy to alienate the LGBTQI community’s struggle from broader gender and social justice struggles, and in giving fodder to homophobic and transphobic bigots to castigate the LGBTQI community even more as some kind of a Western ‘imposition’. Instead of making whiteness very visible in promotional material, the LGBTQI community leaders ought to focus more on strengthening local networks, among the intelligentsia, ministers of religion, grassroots level social justice and gender justice activists. In upholding stronger positions on wider political issues, from reconciliation to dealing with the past, and standing unequivocally for the rights of marginalised groups, such as war widows and orphaned children/destroyed families in the north, and the plantation Tamil community, the LGBTQI community leaders should work towards emerging as social justice activists with a broad national appeal across ethnicity, gender and religion. There is a clear need to make Sri Lankans – meaning – Sri Lankans from all walks of life, from all faiths, socio-economic backgrounds, levels of education, across ethno-national faultlines, to be represented in the LGBTQI community’s promotional material. This can only be done by grassroots activism. If looking Westwards for inspiration, the most rejuvenating inspiration can be found in the work of black trans and queer activism in the USA, from organisations such as the Audre Lorde Project, the Sylvia Riviera Law Project, and also in #tqpoc campaigns such as Familia.

At Queen Victoria’s feet? not on.Equal ground

Above: quintessential paradoxes: standing for LGBTQI rights at Queen Vicks’s feet. Source: EQUAL GROUND Facebook page

As part of Pride celebrations organised by Equal Ground, a photograph was circulated in social media in which a group of LGBTQI folk – including white folk of course, posing under the most poignant of Colombo’s colonial vestiges – a massive statue of Queen Victoria. It is legislation introduced under her reign that was instrumental in breaking up societal structures and gender pluralities that long-existed in the South Asian region. It is her reign’s agenda of colonisation, plunder, rape, forced land-grabbing, the forceful imposition of social conservatisms and a servile mindset that continue to criminalise LGBT people in Sri Lanka. It is also the legacy of colonial rule, of which an eventful century passed under her rule, that prompts community leaders and those in positions of privilege to gape at the white West as ‘the model’, and perceive whiteness as invariably superior. It is this mindset that is manifest in Equal Ground’s usage of white faces in its promotional material. Whoever’s idea it was to take that photograph at Victoria’s feet, it stands as a very strong reminder of where Sri Lanka’s LGBTQI activism stands – paying lip service to a western neo-imperialist agenda, intent upon boosting personal egos, securing western money for funded projects and living in a bubble amidst ‘white expats’ in Colombo, with the occasional outreach initiative and some promotional material in Sinhala and Tamil. From a perspective of queer liberation, and full justice, equality and protection for the Sri Lankan LGBTQI community/ies, gender and social justice to all, this picture suggests that prospects for Sri Lankans are very bleak. It is very important for the LGBTQI rights advocates in the Colombo elite to sit down and reflect upon their positions of privilege, what they are trying to achieve and the lacunae in their current strategies.

The above reading is not, however, in any way intended at demeaning or condemning the positive work done by the elitist urbane LGBTQI lobby in Colombo. They have certainly made commendable contributions over the years, and this writer for a second does not doubt their good intentions. However, it is crystal-clear that their activism is in need of critical thought and analysis, and a thoroughgoing reframing of where they are headed, what they intend to achieve, and reposition their struggle targeting the long term goal queer liberation, gender and social justice to all Sri Lankans.

*Dr Chaminda Weerawardhana (@fremancourt) is a Visiting Research Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    5

    Well written and a sound article of the neo-liberal LGBTQ propaganda activism !!! Excellent !

  • 25
    20

    Don’t bring LBTQg madness to Sri Lanka! Don’t think everything ‘white man’ does is right! LGBT is against nature ordered way of life. Accepting Lgbt as normal marks the down fall of humanity (from now on, humanity is doomed).

    • 13
      16

      It is nothing but nature that has created LGBT and it is biologically normal. As per the medical research, they did not become LGBT but were born as LGBT. It is your stupid primitive culture that is calling them abnormal.

      • 7
        11

        Isn’t mosquitos which spread “Dengu” or “Barawa” natural ? Aren’t ADD/ADHD children born with that condition? Just queries …

        • 6
          7

          This is not a mosquitos rights issue, its a human rights issue. There are physically and mentally challenged people from birth. This is also somewhat similar. Who knows, sometimes your own child or grandchild may be born as a LGBT. Then you will realise that it is natural.

          • 2
            5

            Thanks for clarification. I myself is a gay and I say it openly as I live in a civilized country. Above queries I raised are just questions come to my mind, I didn’t try to offend you.. Love you.

            • 9
              1

              british social research by gays- it does not occur naturally only but environment creates it too.

    • 5
      2

      It is well documented that most homophobes are frustrated homosexuals. They lash out at those who seem to be brave enough to enjoy their chosen life.

      • 5
        0

        //It is well documented that most homophobes are frustrated homosexuals. They lash out at those who seem to be brave enough to enjoy their chosen life??

        Could not agree more BBS Rep !!

        That, and the incessant brain washing by religions and culture police that LGBT is “abnormal” or a “life style choice”.

        As a hetreosexual (born that way, not out of a “life style choice”) – I am fully behind equal rights and freedom from persecution for my LGBT brothers and sisters. Time to ditch the primitive attitudes …

    • 1
      3

      Not anti gay…but ……GOD made ADAM N EVE not ADAM N STEVE nor EVE N EVA…

      Anal penetration among gay males has contributed to Aids…

      When one goes against Gods will ….terrible things can happen for which we humans have no remedy…so lets not try transgress n seek the wrath of God…

      • 2
        0

        It’s what your’s and Lanka’s favourite Obama, Hillary are promoting.
        This happens very often with broken families and kids- send more women to ME. Hostels and care homes for kids.
        That is the research carried out by Gays/Lesbians of Soho London- [Edited out]
        Trump is against it.

  • 3
    0

    Hey Dr Chamida, [Edited out]

  • 16
    2

    Sri Lanka has no standards in these things, we are too bent to be judgmental. Any queen can be a king and any king can be a queen!The paradise is promoted as a faggot country for old homosexuals of Europe.

  • 6
    5

    Dr.Weerawardhana

    I too have felt that EG was more of an ego-trip and opportunity for upper class LGBTQ folk to enjoy the perks of foreign funding, and providing a chance for westerners to meet some local LGBTs.

    I am not sure how middle and lower-class LGBTQs can be visible and active, since they lack the cushion from the mob rule that the upper classes can avoid due to their money and connections.

    Buddhism and hinduism are not the reason for homophbia in Sri Lanka. Some muslims and Catholics still use religion to bash LGBTQs. I feel the main source of discrimination against LGBTQs is related to notions of what makes a family, not some religious compunction. Advocates need to convey the truth that LGBTQ people can also procreate and raise children in healthy homes, just like heterosexuals.

  • 12
    2

    Chaminda Weerawardhana,

    As a member of the species Homo shitpushin, you need to understand that mutants like are not ‘born’ but ‘made’ through [Edited out]
    Take it from me [Edited out], there are no homo’phobes’ or any other ‘phobes’ in Sri Lanka and the LGBT issue does not even come close to our major problem of poverty and hunger of millions of poor in our country.
    [Edited out]

  • 1
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 3
    5

    A thousand years from now a huge worldwide majority will be against unnatural homosexual [Edited out].

  • 1
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 5
    8

    We understand the need to protect LGBT issues. As a Buddhist nation we always had our own culture in dealing with these things. We are not the Islamic Middle East that openly kills LGTB, and we were always far more progressive than the Western world.

    The difference between the modern Western world and Sri Lanka, is that LBGT has come out of the closet in the Western world. Sri Lanka is not ready for this, and doesn’t need to be.

    In a Buddhiat mind, life should be middle path. Hence the sanctity of marriage. With marriage relations are tempered, especially with the advent of chilren. It is meant to be that way, so the parents can work hard to being up their offspring.

    With Western LGBT lifestyles, with no issue of children (unless artificially), there is no constraint on sexuality. Middle path is difficult to be followed. Only the rich can indulge. The not so rich become a bane on society, as the work that is needed to survive, is taken up by the tenacity towards far greater amounts of sex by LGBT.

    Traditionally, in Sri Lanka, and even in the West,, certain sections of monastries were conservertively kept aside for LGBT. LGBT remained virtually unknown in general society. LGBT relations thus had greater restrain, and greater value was placed on work ethics for survival.

    However, nowadays, one wonders if the the promotion of open LGBT is a ruse by the West, to make the world compliant to upholding the US dollar value. For once one goes into the world of families, money takes on a different meaning – money’s association has far greater protectionism.

    The intent by the Western world is for short term money making, and one they get that final control on money, they themselves will secure their societies, and leave the rest of us to be pepetually LGBT (and with far reduced offspring too).

    • 1
      5

      It is meant to be that way, so the parents can work hard to bring up their offspring*

      And human offspring, unlike animal offspring, come out of the womb, very helpless.

    • 4
      3

      “In a Buddhiat mind, life should be middle path. Hence the sanctity of marriage.”

      Is that why Siddhartha Gautama left and abandoned his own child and wife to attain Nirvana and later as Buddha ordained his only son Rahula as a Buddhist Monk at the age seven depriving him his childhood and also a married life?

      “Traditionally, in Sri Lanka, certain sections of monasteries were conservertively kept aside for LGBT.”

      What about the homosexuality and child abuse that is taking place on a regular basis at the Buddhist monasteries in Sri Lanka? Most Sri Lankan Buddhist Temples have a constant stream of boys and young male helpers who live there for short periods. It is not at all unusual for temples to seek help from youths in nearby villages to prepare for religious ceremonies and in the general day-to-day running of the buildings. This, say critics, provides an ideal climate for the Buddhist monks to take sexual advantage of vulnerable and impressionable boys mostly under 16 years old.

      • 2
        4

        Bad system. Needs to be looked into. There should be a task force to stamp these practices out. And it doesn’t happen only with Buddhist clergy, but also Catholic clergy. However, too often the clergy is much maligned by others that wish to harm the Buddhist religion. How does one distinguish truth from the lies?

        • 1
          1

          ramona grandma therese fernando

          “How does one distinguish truth from the lies?”

          For people like you it is almost an impossibility. Please don’t try it for it will hurt your scatterbrain.

          • 1
            0

            Through intelligent analysis and ethical enquiry, Native Vedda.

        • 0
          1

          “There should be a task force to stamp these practices out.”

          The only reason is because they are deprived of a family life. As a human, they also have the natural sexual urge which should not be suppressed. The poor villagers not only offer free food but even offer their young children to the Buddhist temples/monasteries to be ordained as a monk (Samanera). These poor children get abused, molested and sodomized by the senior/adult monks who prey on their innocence to satisfy their carnal desires. Homosexual activities such as sodamising the abiththayas and novice young monks is happening in temples for many centuries and is kept as a secret.

          Such practices cannot be stamped out, however, if they are allowed to marry and have children, everything will change.

          • 1
            1

            Any abuse is usually by a small percentage of monks. But because they are monks, these incidents are highlighted.

            Yet, the system needs to change. There should be also married monks.

            Only a small percentage of human population have the aptitude and ability to reach higher spiritual planes, devoid of physical perceptions(we can’t discount this percentage and say that all should get married or have relationships). These are the people crucial for humanity who will guide us towards higher spiritual realities.

            • 0
              1

              Any non-abuse is usually by a very small percentage of monks whereas abuse is by a very large number. But because they are monks, these incidents are not highlighted by the society due to the respect they have for the saffron robe. The only way to avoid this is to get married or have relationships and lead a normal family life. How can these people be crucial for humanity who will guide us towards higher spiritual realities when they themselves cannot guide themselves in the right path? They cannot provide any vision or guidance or constructive power to the society because the spirit has long since departed from these utterly immoral individuals who have wrapped up themselves in a saffron robe to hoodwink the people.

  • 3
    5

    Dr.Weerawardhana.

    Thanks for an enlighteed article.

    I fully endorse your views.
    It is a human rights issue

    As Silva in an earlier comment said,”they did not become LGBT but were born as LGBT”.

    culture is stupid at times

  • 3
    3

    What are these rights.

    We understand your difficulty. This became a problem in countries where every thing was created by the Almighty and not in buddhist countries.

    Do you want us to accept what you do in the bed room or you force us to say OK what you are doing.

  • 4
    3

    You make some very good points. As a teacher at University level I had many students who happen to be Gay or Lesbian. They are born that way. Sri Lanka’s sodomy laws are from hypocritical Victorian era and NOT from Eastern concepts of law or sexual identity. However none of my students in the USA felt they were discriminated in the work place because of their sexual orientation. Now on these western pride month issues like waving the Rainbow flag and going in a Bus is limited to a few hundred Westernized and Western educated and English speaking elites as you pointed out. Those US Embassy blokes do not seem to have a clue about cultural sensitivity.

    That sort of active participation is encouraged by the US only to meet their goals of having some select groups of people identifying with them.

    By the way, I look forward to going to the wedding of a wonderful gay student in February. His family is really loving and accepted him for who he is and he and his mom have been to our house too; he was a superb student who backed me to the hilt when I was ready to punch my Indian Madrasi douchebag Boss after he backstabbed me and my wife in his petty paranoid world of thinking everyone was against him..

    But my student’s partner’s family is Southern Baptist and refuses to acknowledge him. So 2 years ago when they came to our house for thanksgiving, his partner had to go to his house without him as he was told that he is not welcome.

    I understand lots of people will grapple with their christian or muslim views on this but we as Buddhists or Hindus should not. There is no concept of judging people or condemning them to some harsh actions by a mean spirited god or gods or deities.

    I have to go back to my time in my motherland and realize how we were prejudiced and hypocritical about such issues. A wonderful cousin of mine was one of the first people to die of AIDS in Sri Lanka after contacting HIV during his time in England. At our cousins “get togethers” we used to laugh when he talked, and that was really ignorant of us that was in hindsight very unkind of us. We did not bully him but we just giggled and we were in denial of the idea that a person can be born that way. So I was as ignorant back then. I now shudder to think how some of our politicians and clergy pretend to be so pious.

    I know better now because of the love I get from my students who just happen to be gay and have every right to be happy and be treated equally and fairly. But in Sri Lanka the culture is very different and the “in your face” Gay parade Double Decker sort of thing will probably not fly outside Colombo.

    But for example if people remove the sodomy laws under which people get persecuted, it will work better. In India or Sri Lanka outside big cities and outside westernized, english speaking (or as we used to say people who use fork and knives) public display of affection is not that common be they heterosexual or homosexual. So any action might draw a nasty response from bigots of all religions and races including Sinhalese, muslims and definitely the christian right. But even the Pope has now come out telling people not to judge others. I am glad you mentioned the US Embassy. Staff there are relatively young and from big cities and liberal elites even if they are Indian Americans like Keshap. They have this streak of arrogance and thinking their way is the only way and while they argue for tolerance, they have zero tolerance for conservatives. I find that to be a real bullshit mentality. So what they cannot openly do in USA or say in Saudi Arabia or Malaysia they want to do in a tolerant nation like Sri Lanka where “live and let live it is none of my business ” works well still. So they want to butt into every fucking sphere in social activism and put their footprint as Obama supporter liberals. It may not be the case IF conservatives win. Gay rights will not feature in a Republican agenda and it will be opposite. You see that they do not have the balls to do a Pride month in a single oil rich Arab nation or Russia which is full of bigotry for gay people still or even Indonesia or Malaysia. So Sri LAnka has become their latest social experimentation and if you notice they are everywhere in every sphere since the UNP won last year. The UNP has leading people who are Gay and very confident and not afraid to be gay and it has also has people in arranged marriages to gain acceptance in Society when they are gay because otherwise they cannot openly be gay or lesbian; Sad. So if people have patience and society is educated over time I think there will be more acceptance. What is more practical is for there to be

    Sadly awareness in nations like India and Sri Lanka are woefully inadequate even today. If you recall the young kid Ryan White who died of AIDS after contracting the virus via a blood transfusion in the late 1980s was a victim of hate and bigotry. Why? Those of you in Sri Lanka may not remember but he came on stage during the 1988 Democratic national convention. Ryan Wayne White was a teenager from Indiana, who became a national poster child for HIV/AIDS in the United States after being expelled from middle school because of his infection. Fear and prejudice in Sri Lanka even in 2015 led to rejection of a boy just because his mother had HIV right?

    So now to get back to Hillary(who is very much speculated to be Bisexual and with Huma Abedin supposed to be her partner) and some of the elite liberals are not representative of everyone. There is still a lot of bias and prejudice but youth are far more open to ideas of gay marriage.

    What you need to watch out for are the reports of higher incidents of HIV and AIDS in Sri LAnka in recent years. Then ask why. It is promiscuity and both heterosexual and homosexual risky behavior when condoms are not used and people have multiple partners. A lot of married men in SRi Lanka lead double lives or also visit nations like Thailand and have risky sex and bring back HIV and infect their wives. And of course unprotected anal sex is a sure shot way to pass on HIV if one sleeps with an HIV infected partner. If you recall Charlie Sheen the actor is HIV because he had multiple female partners and was engaging in high risk behavior.


    Charlie Sheen has said he caught HIV because he was irresponsible but has denied that the diagnosis pushed him to the brink of suicide.
    The troubled Hollywood actor revealed last month that he had been battling the virus for four years, in a bid to stop himself being blackmailed.
    Now the 50-year-old has admitted that he ‘should have been more responsible and more concerned for myself’ in the years of wild sex and hard partying when he contracted the virus

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3372348/Charlie-Sheen-admits-caught-HIV-irresponsible-said-never-contemplated-suicide-diagnosis

    Some of these US sponsored kids who were probably educated in the US probably feel “it is cool to be gay and promiscuous” and engage in risky behavior. Someone needs to be very blunt about this. I remember during my school’s centennial exhibition going to the Medical College run exhibition stall where there were graphic scary body parts(in formalin jars), photos of body parts etc displayed about people who had contracted STDs and have been in denial and have had third stage infections including Syphilis and Gonorrhea. That was enough for one to puke and be horrified. But it sent a clear message to horny testosterone loaded teenagers about the “What will happen”. I feel if US embassy wants to promote Pride month they need to also educate people about HIV.

    Drug users who engage in prostitution to find money for drugs, people engaging in risky sex without condoms are all high risk people. AIDS is not just a gay disease. Being in denial is bad. Educated people and tell the US Embassy to promote safer sex(no sex is safe but it can be made safer if people use condoms 100 % of the time).

    Time to drop this veneer of sanctimonious horse excrement and face facts of reality. Accepting people for who they are will come; the hypocrisy needs to end. Do not be like Uganda or Saudi Arabia or Iran to punish people for the way they were born. Look to Eastern faiths like Hinduism and Buddhism to gain some insight onto this. Take practical action to get rid of White Man’c Victorian sodomy laws; even Britain which imposed them have done away with those. Live and let live.

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      “”They are born that way. Sri Lanka’s sodomy laws are from hypocritical Victorian era and NOT from Eastern concepts of law or sexual identity. “”

      Not the criteria.
      Its happened to British kids from broken homes where there is none to care for them. Some turn out to be bisexual and have children.
      Britain is more serious than continent about promiscuity.

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      SADcase:

      You look like another gay guy. Because, you are talking things that do not exist.

      In Sri lanka, Gays or lesbians are not harnessed.

      It is not the same case even in the USA. There are movies made out of well known gay -killing cases. Because of the Catholic/christian influence all these so called developed countries discriminate heavily on Gays and Lesbians.

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    [Edited out]

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    Homos did not HAVE Homos parents, they were normal people.

    Even animals don’t have homos. We are gone so low in our morality.

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      “Homos did not HAVE Homos parents, they were normal people.”

      Blind people (by birth) also did not have blind parents, they were normal people.

      “Even animals don’t have homos”

      Many animals engage in homo activities, google and read without talking nonsense.

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        Retards did not retarded parents, so by inference homos are like retards.

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    Thank you sadcase. I am glad that you- unlike most commentators here – have an open mind – that’s what the buddha advocated after all :)

    As for some who are mis-informed: children born to lesbians and/or raised by homosexuals are as mentally fit and “normal” as those from heterosexual households.

    In today’s world you do not need to have sex with a member of the opposite sex in order to have children, raise them and ensure the survival of the human race!!! In Sri Lanka plenty of people are either having babies via in-vitro feritilization, surrogacy or adoption. Such babies are as NORMAL as any other babies! Do some research and learn before you open your mouth and discredit a whole group of people, who are just as “normal” as you.

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      sinhalese buddhist

      “In today’s world you do not need to have sex with a member of the opposite sex in order to have children,”

      True, Genetic Engineering has advanced since the first case was reported about 2500 years ago in Sinhapura, Venga, Lata land. At the time Sinha scientist experimented with cross breeding beauty and a beast successfully created a new race.

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    We all masturbate, but deny we do.
    At one time or another we have sought the pleasures of prostitutes, but deny we do.
    We all have a gay uncle or aunty, but deny we do.
    As schoolboys we all had some homosexual experiences, but deny that we did.
    We believe the Sinhalese are superior, but deny we do.
    We believe Buddhists are superior, but deny we do.
    We want Sri Lanka to be pure [Sinhala Buddhists], but deny we do.
    We are up there with the worst nations when it comes to murder, suicide and alcoholism, but deny we do.
    We are wife beaters, but deny we do.
    We exploit those less fortunate, but deny we do.
    Shouldn’t we all have a reality check?

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      Well said Dionysus WELL SAID… how true. There is so much confusion. And people are mixing up rather deliberately and viciously pedophiles with homosexuality. Two different things though one can lead to the other and there is enough causation effect research to show that. HOWEVER, in most cases child molesters are heterosexual. I have gay friends and highly successful lesbian married friends whose kids are heterosexual because that is how they were born. TG may now be XXY or XYY chromosome individuals and there are studies to show that there is potentially a gay gene. Sri Lankans are in great denial.

      When Jesus raided the Temple of Pharisees did he condemn Gays or Lesbians? Hell no. He railed against Greed and Cattle Buyers, Dove Sellers and Money Changers : ALL SYMBOLS of Capitalist greed. He NEVER condemned Gays. Wake up and smell the Coffee brothers and sisters.

      Here is what the finally enlightened Pope, the Leader of the Catholic Church said just on June 26-2016. Most of the bigotry comes from Christians and Muslims against Gays.


      ope Francis said on Sunday that Christians and the Roman Catholic Church should seek forgiveness from homosexuals for the way they had treated them.

      Speaking to reporters aboard the plane taking him back to Rome from Armenia, he also said the Church should ask forgiveness for the way it has treated women, for turning a blind eye to child labor and for “blessing so many weapons” in the past.

      In the hour-long freewheeling conversation that has become a trademark of his international travels, Francis was asked if he agreed with recent comments by a German Roman Catholic cardinal that the Church should apologize to gays.

      Francis looked sad when the reporter asked if an apology was made more urgent by the killing of 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, Florida this month.

      He recalled Church teachings that homosexuals “should not be discriminated against. They should be respected, accompanied pastorally.”

      He added: “I think that the Church not only should apologize … to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologize to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by (being forced to) work. It must apologize for having blessed so many weapons.”

      The Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are, and that homosexuals should try to be chaste.

      Francis repeated a slightly modified version of the now-famous “Who am I to judge?” comment he made about gays on the first foreign trip after his election in 2013.


      “The questions is: if a person who has that condition, who has good will, and who looks for God, who are we to judge?”

      FORGIVENESS, NOT JUST APOLOGY

      Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that the pope, by saying “has that condition”, did not imply a medical condition but “a person in that situation”. In Italian, the word “condition” can also mean “situation”.

      “We Christians have to apologize for so many things, not just for this (treatment of gays), but we must ask for forgiveness, not just apologize! Forgiveness! Lord, it is a word we forget so often!” he said.

      Francis has been hailed by many in the gay community for being the most merciful pope toward them in recent history and conservative Catholics have criticized him for making comments they say are ambiguous about sexual morality.

      He told reporters on the plane “there are traditions in some countries, some cultures, that have a different mentality about this question (homosexuals)” and there are “some (gay) demonstrations that are too offensive for some”.

      But he suggested that those were not grounds for discrimination or marginalization of gays.

      The pope did not elaborate on what he meant by seeking forgiveness for the Church “having blessed so many weapons”, but it appeared to be a reference to some Churchmen who actively backed wars in the past.

      In other parts of the conversation, Francis said he hoped the European Union would be able to give itself another form after the United Kingdom’s decision to leave.

      “There is something that is not working in that bulky union, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water, let’s try to jump-start things, to re-create,” he said.

      He also denied reports that former Pope Benedict, who resigned in 2013, was still exercising influence inside the Vatican.

      “There is only one pope,” he said. He praised Benedict, 89, for “protecting me, having my back, with his prayers”.

      Francis said he had heard that when some Church officials had gone to Benedict to complain that Francis was too liberal, Benedict “sent them packing”.

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    there are no people in sri lanka who are kissing and caressing in open. I think, this guy is asking to introduce those things to sri lanka.

    Otherwise, Gay and lesbians are not something new to sri lanka. Only thing new will be the right to involve sexual acts in open.

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      jim softy dimwit

      “there are no people in sri lanka who are kissing and caressing in open. I think, this guy is asking to introduce those things to sri lanka.”

      Have you ever visited parks, beaches, Cinemas, …. ?

      Get up, get out, and get real. Beg your pardon, I forgot you need someone to push your wheelchair.

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        Good point. When we were young, open dating was not that common. We went to Cinemas. Got Balcony backrow seats so we could cuddle and make out with our girlfriends and get some touchy touchy. Some of my friends use to get and perform oral sex on their girlfriends too. We are talking in the 1980s.

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    It is really sad to see how many Victorias idiots think that they are not victoria’s idiots. Sinhala Buddhist tradition treated sexuality as a personal mater and state or religion didn’t had any role. And being a homophobic idiot is not being Sinhalese nor Buddhist in any way It is actually being a victoria’s idiots.

    British imposed morality lows should be removed and freedom of people must be upheld if we are talking about upholding our tradition. Right now the issue is majority of the lefties and center rights both think that victorian ideas came out of the twisted minded british elite in late 1800 is actually Sri Lankan thing.

    Get over it people, We were known for our freedoms, It is time to smash victoria and her idiots and adapt our free thinking heritage from pre colonial period to suit modern needs of our society.
    A big thank you to the writer for writing this.

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      sanka chandima abayawardena

      “Get over it people, We were known for our freedoms, It is time to smash victoria and her idiots and adapt our free thinking heritage from pre colonial period to suit modern needs of our society. A big thank you to the writer for writing this.”

      I have no problem in completely agreeing with you. In a similar vein would you now smash the dated foreign ideas of Sovereignty, borders, immigration & emigration control,nationhood, winners take all majoritarianism, and the idea of Sri Lankan state, Sinhala/Buddhism, Tamil Saivaism, Latin Christianity, Arab Islam, …………… ?

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    [Edited out]

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