23 October, 2018

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Maha Sanga Protests Appointment Of First Transgender Governor

One of Sri Lanka’s main Buddhist institutions, the Asgiriya Chapter, has protested regarding the appointment of the newly appointed Governor of the Central Province on the basis of gender.

President Maithripala Sirisena appointed Niluka Ekanayake to the post of Governor Central Province on the 17th, March 2016.

She is the first transgender person to hold such a high profile post in Sri Lanka’s history.Niluka Ekanayake

After the appointment of the new Governor, President Maithripala Sirisena tweetedCongratulations to Niluka Ekanayake, Governor of Central Province. She replaces the eminent spokesperson for women, Surangani Ellawala“.

Niluka Ekanayaka

She was charged on two counts one for impersonation and one for forgery

“Niluka Ekanakayake has no qualifications to justify her appointment to such a lucrative government position. Her only qualification is that she is the secret horoscope reader for President Maithripala Sirisena.”

” I’m not sure whether he is promoting a marginalised person or promoting his secret astrologer. I didn’t ask President about this since it is his choice and he has power to appoint anyone he wants, since this appointment didn’t want the approval of the Constitutional Council” one of the President’s close confidantes told Colombo Telegraph on the condition of anonymity.

History 

Although she was born as a man and named Sattambige Don Neil Sriyaratne at birth, she behaved like a girl from her childhood days, Niluka’s father told media some time ago.

According to Colombo Telegraph research, as a transgender person, especially a transgender woman, she has been experiencing widespread prejudice, discrimination and other forms of stigma.

Earlier in 1997 a man named Sattambige Don Neil Sriyaratne pleaded guilty to a Criminal Investigation Department charge for impersonation.

In 1998 he was also charged for forgery.

According to court records from 1997, Niluka was produced before Doctor Nalaka Mendis at the national hospital Colombo who after inspection had confirmed in his report that the accused happened to be biologically male.

It is not clear whether Niluka Ekanayake is just wearing women’s clothes whilst being a man. However she now claims she is married and has a child.

According to existing Sri Lankan legislation Niluka Ekanayake then risks being guilty of being ‘male’ and operating under a female alias, with which she went on to obtain huge bank loans on the pretext of being a prawn farming businesswoman.

The details and verdict of that particular case hit world news headlines when it also stated that the same man Sattambige Don Neil Sriyaratne in Sri Lanka had earlier won the award for the “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 1995”.

On the 19th of April 1997 The Spokesman-Review carried a story “Honored Female Isn’t One After All“. On 13th April 1997 the New York Times carried a headline ” No Businesswoman, He“. According to the New York Times story she did obtain a bank loan of US $ 500,000.

It was in the Magistrate Court of Colombo Sri Lanka that President Counsel Tilak Marapana appeared for Niluka Ekanayake in her defence.

Sattambige Don Neil Sriyaratne the man was fined and warned when he pleaded guilty to the charge of impersonation.

A lawyer who also represented Niluka Ekanayake confirmed to Colombo Telegraph that the new Governor Central Province is the same man Sattambige Don Neil Sriyaratne that he appeared for in that case in 1997.

Sattambige Don Neil Sriyaratne’s legal team had even gone on to state that their client was born male. However a hormonal condition meant their cliententered adulthood with female features.

An LGBTQI rights activist when contacted said “this is a progressive step in our quest to have the Lesbianism, Gay, Bi- Sexual and the Transgender act implemented in Sri Lanka. Currently citizens of Sri Lanka can legally change their name but there is no law passed yet to change one’s gender. I applaud President Sirisena for this historical appointment” she said.

Sanga Protest 

According to media reports in Colombo, two powerful Government Ministers S.B. Dissanayake and Mahinda Amaraweera who are close confidantes of President Maithripala Sirisena had visited the Anunayake of the Asgiriya Chapter Wendaruwe Upali in Kandy last morning. The High Priest had then gone on to vehemently oppose Niluka Ekanayake’s appointment as the new Governor of the Central Province. Leading buddhist monks of the Asgiri Chapter – Warakagoda Dhammaratana, Urulewatte Dhammarakkhitha, Anamaduve Dhammadhassi and Gallalle Sadhdhatissa were also present at the meeting.

“The Governor has to work with Buddhist monks in the central province and also has to participate in religious ceremonies at the ‘Temple of the Tooth Relic’ (Sri Dalada Maligawa). So she is not suitable for the post and President Maithripala Sirisena should appoint someone else” said the Maha Sanga who had been firm in their request to the two Ministers.

Prior to Niluka Ekanayake’s appointment the Governor Central Province was a female Surangani Ellawela. She passed away on the 14th, March 2016.

Sri Lanka had the world’s 1st female Prime Minister and 1st female Executive President. Both of them as well as the former Governor participated in religious ceremonies at Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy. At that time no Maha Nayaka Thera opposed their participation at those religious ceremonies then.

According to history the tooth relic belonging to Lord Buddha was smuggled from India to Sri Lanka by Princess Hemamala when she concealed it in her hair.

Transgender People

UK-based trans rights activist, blogger and comparative politics academic Dr Chaminda Weerawardhana noted; “Transgender people have existed in every society throughout history. The dominance of the male-female gender binary, which was reinforced across the world especially under the influence of Abrahamic traditions, long resulted in obliterating, and blatantly discriminating against, everybody who did not conform to the cisgender male and female identities. This repressive nature of the gender-binary is such that Trans and gender-fluid/plural people face tremendous levels of violence across the world. In the USA, over twenty transwomen, especially transwomen of colour, were murdered in 2015 alone. In Brazil, some 48 transwomen were killed in January 2016 alone. Despite these appalling circumstances, the right to affirm one’s gender identity has emerged as a crucial civil rights issue of the present time. Trans people have gained increased visibility, and quite a few countries now recognise the presence of trans people and their potential. In the USA, the Obama administration has appointed Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, a Latina public policy expert (and transgender woman) as its LGBTQI liaison. In Tamil Nadu, K. Prithika Yashini, a trans woman has been appointed as a police officer, and in the UK, a transwoman, Dr Victoria McCloud, is a high court judge.”

“In 2015, the Irish Republic introduced a Gender Recognition Act, which facilitates the legal formalities for trans people seeking to legally change their gender. A similar bill is currently being debated in the Norwegian parliament. In South Asia, Nepal and India have ‘third gender’ options on their passports. All this is complemented by an on-going struggle to recognise the civil rights of people who identify as ‘non-binary’. The bottom line is that it is up to each individual to ‘self-determine’ their gender identity. Governments and judiciaries cannot impose hormone replacement therapy or gender reassignment surgery on free citizens. It is up to each transgender person to decide how far they wish to go in terms of medical transition, decide which gender pronouns they use or whether they wish to change their name or not. Someone’s gender identity, whether cis or trans, should certainly not be an impediment to excel in a chosen profession, or assume governmental or diplomatic office. Sri Lanka has a vibrant trans community, with people making great contributions through their work, and it is high time that Colombo introduced gender recognition legislation, repealed sections 365 and 365A of the Penal Code, and put in place regulations against all forms of discrimination, including anti-trans discrimination.” Dr Weerawardhana told Colombo Telegraph.

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Latest comments

  • 10
    2

    President Maithripala Sirisena (MS) has appointed Niluka Ekanayake (NE) to the post of Governor Central Province as the President’s representative to the said l Province. And she happened to be the first transgender woman to appoint to hold such a high constitutionally created position.

    The CT should be commended, in the absence of denial as the facts, of the research done to expose the state of affairs which is of public importance for a number of reasons.

    NE’s gender is not an issue as Sri Lanka’s history records many women who held the country’s high profile positions. The transgender is also not an issue as it is not her fault. This is humanitarian issue to be dealt with due respect to the person concerned.
    However the core issue of the need to appoint qualified and suitable persons to positions of high importance cannot be veiled under the humanitarian issue as reported in the instant case.

    Above all it is said that NK has no qualifications to justify her appointment to such a lucrative government position and the fact that she being the secret horoscope reader for the President MS is the only qualification.

    One could argue that it is the President’s prerogative to appoint any one of his choice to appoint to the lucrative constitutional position and the President for this is not bound to seek the assent of the newly constituted Constitutional Council. The exercise of such public duty goes unnoticed so far as a suitable person is appointed. Since the accession to the Presidency under yahapalanaya MS is messing up the governance by appointing unbefitting relatives and associates and slowly and surely following the footpath of constitutional impunity as exercised by MR.

    According to CT research NE was born as a male. The court records in 1997 reveal that in 1997 NE has been medically inspected and confirmed biologically a male. She now claims that she is married and has a child. The legal counsel who defended her in courts confirmed that NE was same person who was biologically confirmed a male and who was charged in courts for criminal impersonation.

    Unless the legal status as to gender identity has undergone a change at the time of the marriage or before it to correspond to her current claim she runs the risk of being legally charged for criminal impersonation for a ‘male’ being impersonating as a ‘female’.

    Is there a legal barrier for a gender change to incorporate in the birth certificate? If so would there be a legislative changes allay the mess that has created with this appointment? Would such legislative change results in legalizing ‘same sex marriage. Was President conscious of the background of the appointee at the time of appointment? Any appointment to a responsible government position always require examination of background, credentials and existence of any past criminal records of prospective appointee. It is the moral responsibility bestowed upon the present President who was brought to office with a mandate administers good governance yahapalanaya.

    H K Seneviratne

    • 6
      3

      Why is the appointment of the Governor not an item of NEWS in the Media? None of the local News papers have reported it so far. WHY?

      • 1
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        A secret appointment for a secret Astrologer. I hear she is refurbishing the Official residence and Office spending a large amount that is uncalled for. This ‘She Male’ is a master crook going by his/her past records.

  • 24
    12

    Seriously? We are worried about her gender and not her competency?
    Where were we when clowns like MR were running the country? We should have stepped up then while he was robbing us! Not when we don’t like how a person defines their gender.

    How messed up are we that we let MR rob the country but we make a fuss about a governors gender. Lord Buddha would certainly distance himself from the Maha Sangha if he was alive today.

    • 8
      2

      This is ground reality of srilanka. They only focus on the surface values not about experience or competency.

      Typical to lanken people.

  • 14
    6

    The question is, is he/she qualified to hold this position?. According to the commentary, she is the secret astrology of M3. He voice appears to be female. Apart from that she had been charged of impersonation and few other issues of default. The governor should be a clean person and should have an unblemished character. On these grounds she is not fit to hold this position.

    This is yahapalana and helping mates

  • 19
    24

    Now, the “Yahapalana” regime is full of freaks, a Freak Show to be precise! A Freakish foreign minister, a freakish governor, what’s next?

    • 18
      6

      Asif

      “A Freakish foreign minister, a freakish governor, what’s next?”

      Freakish – very unusual, strange, or unexpected.

      What is freakish about foreign minister and governor?

    • 6
      4

      some of the government must be freaks. So they can represent frakish intolerant public like you. So they are there in the parliament to represent you

  • 6
    5

    I find it all a bit surreal to hear one set of men in robes complain about another. This one is surely for the believe or not file.

  • 3
    3

    this is what they complained about when they found out that managala was gay. they wanted to have him arrested!

  • 0
    1

    [Edited out]

  • 1
    2

    so this is the THIRD gender…!

  • 3
    6

    And how many perverts are wearing saffron robes?
    For f@@k sake look at the disturbed faces on the filth?

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out] Please avoid typing all capitalized comments – CT

  • 3
    7

    Asgirya had been a pain to all of us Kandy,that is dying with highly polluted air where several requests by the people to open the road by the Maligawa was opposed by this Asgirya enterprise.Truly digraceul.
    Hope this lady and the other authorities will take courage and open that road.
    We welcome her appointment.

  • 3
    3

    Weirdo is a weirdo, whatever way to cut it!

  • 4
    2

    I am not sure why this writer is stating the tooth relic of the Buddha was smuggled. It was concealed in her hair to avoid it being stolen by thieves on the way to Sri Lanka.

    “According to history the tooth relic belonging to Lord Buddha was smuggled from India to Sri Lanka by Princess Hemamala when she concealed it in her hair.”.

    If the issue here is transgender he should keep his article on the particular topic without mentioning incorrect information to mislead people who read the article. What is his point in mentioning this..?

  • 5
    4

    We should commend the Government of Srilanka 0n this bold appointment of a person to a high position disregarding any gender bias .and accepting a minority person …It is very enlightened indeed ! and will be commended by the world of today.where such issues are out in the open ..My worry is what about the CV of the person .On what grounds was this appointment made .Is it only for this reason? that does not seem right for the public were not educated on this factor If it was so and then it could have been a honorary position that does not involve allowances and perks .for the latter demands qualifications in keeping with the position ,On the other hand this Person now will be at the receiving end of many adverse remarks less acceptance with this publicity of her gender . .The community is still not educated we have just embarked on this elsewhere in the world to accept this situation and the mind set of the civil libertarians , the trends of human rights campaigning of today ..Not even religious leaders have stopped to think of the marginalized people and they are now protesting ..Educate our people to accept the different people who are not deviants but are born that way and have to be comfortable with their own self , then embark on an affirmative action program of giving high appointments to the minorities and we will be hailed again as the first nation to do so ..I am sure there are many trans people of unblemished character in our country .silent citizens who work for others .

  • 4
    3

    Like National List, these governor posts are also for politicians to reward their pals. Is this YAHAPALANA so bankrupt not to find some one who is educated, no criminal record and not a transgender. After all this is a Buddhist country where such are not welcome by majority.
    Man from Pollonnaruwa should have known this.

  • 0
    6

    Is that woman a man or is that man a woman? We have a right to know that. No one wants to see that person naked to find out. Any doctor other than Dr.Narendiran may be competent enough to decide! Is that person competent enough to perfom the job entrusted to her satisfactorily or is it a job which can be performed satisfactorily by anybody? Alas, this world is oddly made, it is full of parasites!

  • 1
    3

    We certainly are living with strange bedfellows and are governed by a party full of gays. Very soon they will be running amok once they get their feet dug in. And that would be the time mothers would have to protect their sons.

  • 1
    2

    hilarious, I m not against her gender , but we should not have person with Criminal past and a deferent name as the Kandy governor, we should have a Kandyan, not those Dons from south, Sri Lanka has become a comedy central

  • 2
    1

    Hilarious , comedy central Sri Lanka, we should not have a Person with Criminal History as the Central Province governor, we should appoint a good Character Kandyan for this position , Not some one who has changed the Name ,She /HE is a Don from south.

  • 1
    1

    Colombo Telegraph: MAHASANGA? Where did you find this animal? There are no Mahasangas but only miniscular parasites and paedophiles.

  • 1
    0

    The gender be it male, female or in-between, is irrelevant to the discussion. The question is, does her background justify appointment to the post. This raises the larger question of what is the role of a Provincial Governor? It is, I think the creation of old JR – but since we cannot now ask him, we will need to work it out for ourselves!
    We know it is not an elected post but selected and appointed by the President, presumably to do his bidding and therefore, perhaps we can say, as his agent. I don’t see how the Governor can act independent of the President.
    It is an expensive way to have an agent of the Executive President and cannot be justified because there are so many other agents of the President through whom he can act – including the Government Agent in the Kachcheri; clearly, the President really does not need to have a Governor. If the post of Governor is a ruse to control the provincial politicians who have been, after all, elected with a mandate of their own, it would be undemocratic.
    If JR intended it to be just a ceremonial post to which he can appoint whomsoever he choses – perhaps to return a favour – then this lady (Gent) is perfectly suitable.

  • 0
    0

    The whole thing stinks. Are we short of men and women of calibre for the post of Governor to the Central Province? Appoint a person with clean records and high dignity to save the image of the country

  • 0
    3

    What I want to know is, would the Governor protest at the appointment of a transdgender Mahanayaka?

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