The United Nations Secretary General’s Special Expert on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity/Expression and Sex Characteristics [SOGIESC] Victor Madrigal-Borloz will be visiting Sri Lanka on an evaluator and fact-finding mission in the coming months.
In advance of Mr Madrigal-Borloz’s imminent visit to Colombo, political analyst and SOGIESC rights advocate Dr Chamindra Weerawardhana met with the Special Expert at Te-Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington, on 18th March 2019. Dr Weerawardhana is an advisor to the Community Welfare Development Fund [CWDF – a rapid-response fund that works with trans and queer people in urgent need] and a board member of Venasa, Sri Lanka’s oldest and only trans equality network that focuses on intersectional inclusion, a core focus on transmasculine, transfeminine and nonbinary citizens and the promotion of trans and queer leadership in public life. She is also a member of Chathra, a grassroots SOGIESC advocacy initiative which now has community groups in several parts of the island, and is rapidly expanding its work to build an all-island network composed of people from a diverse range of backgrounds. Dr Weerawardhana is also the Secretary to the Regional Steering Committee of the Bangkok-based Asia Pacific Transgender Network.
The meeting between Madrigal-Borloz and Weerawardhana took place in the context of 2019 world conference of the Geneva-based International Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Intersex Association [ILGA]. ILGA is a body that works with regional bodies [ILGA Asia, Oceania, Europe, Pan-Africa, North America and South America and the Caribbean]. It is a key global platform that brings together SOGIESC rights advocates, governmental and corporate sector representatives and many other concerned individuals from across the world.
At the ILGA World conference, CWDF, Venasa and Chathra are co-organising two events , one focusing on bringing in decolonial discourses to international LGBT+ rights advocacy and the other on decolonial perspectives on SOGIESC rights advocacy in the South and Southeast Asian region. On Sunday 17th March 2019, Dr Weerawardhana was the invitee of Lakhanda, a local Sinhala-language radio programme, where she cogently explained several key aspects of SOGIESC rights advocacy, the work done by committed activist and advocacy groups in Sri Lanka and on challenges facing Sri Lankan politics as we enter an election year.
Commenting on the work done on the ground in Sri Lanka and in terms of international advocacy, Thiyagaraja Waradas, Chathra founder and Director of CWDF, a Commonwealth Doctoral Scholar at the University of Bath and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Colombo, noted: “The meeting between Sri Lankan SOGEISC activists and the UN SOGIESC Special Expert might open new forms of opportunities for the Sri Lankan SOGEISC communities during his forthcoming visit to Sri Lanka. It is the time for Sri Lankan SOGIESC activism to contribute to the global struggle of eliminating discrimination against SOGIESC communities while retaining its local roots”.
“We need to introduce Sri Lankan SOGIESC work to the world, beyond a narrowly construed NGO-industrial framework with its racial, linguistic and exclusionary fault lines”, Waradas further added.
Commenting on the SOGIESC Special Expert’s Sri Lanka visit and Dr Weerawardhana’s advocacy, Uvindu Kurukulasuriya, Founder and Senior Editor of the Colombo Telegraph, observed “The Colombo Telegraph has consistently supported, and continues to extend its fullest support, to the Sri Lankan LGBTQIA+ community and to SOGIESC rights. Ours is a mission of changing people’s mindsets, challenging social conservatisms, and helping create a country where all our citizens can live in dignity and benefit from their non-negotiable fundamental rights. As a media outlet, our ethic is one of strong commitment to LGBTQI+ rights in Sri Lanka. Dr Weerawardhana’s international advocacy is commendable, and given her international profile, she is a great ambassador in the promotion of a locally grounded brand of Sri Lankan SOGIESC rights”.
Kurukulasuriya further noted “The Colombo Telegraph will be closely observing the UN SOGIESC Special Expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz’s forthcoming visit to Sri Lanka, and provide our readers worldwide with regular updates and consistent coverage”.
Representing Venasa, Chathra and CWDF, Dr Weerawardhana will also be speaking at Victoria University Wellington on Wednesday 20th March 2019, focusing on Queer South Asian and Indigenous solidarities. The event information can be viewed here. In addition, the three above-mentioned Sri Lankan organisations represented at ILGA World 2019 are also part of yet another initiative, “We the ancestars”, intended at connecting with Indigenous queer, especially Takatāpui activists, Indigenous elders and community leaders, and developing solidarities between decolonial-intersectional-feminist SOGIESC work in Sri Lanka and Indigenous advocacy in Aotearoa. (By Shamila Rathnayake)
Dilhara / March 19, 2019
Well, well, LGBTQ rights are very godd, but Sexual identity should not be used to protect Bondscam Ranil and the financially illiterate Fiance Minister of Sri Lanka and the other gay chaps such as Sagala who is selling off Lanka’s ports to their NEO-LIBERAL Trumpland backers who they feel have given them liberation from sexual repression.
A financial crime whether by gay or straight folk is a crime and Bondscam Ranil and his gay mafia must be held accountable for looting Lanka, debt trapping it and crashing the rupee on the IMF-WB WAshington COnsensus NEO_LIBERAL neo con project to build a US military base in Trincomalee now that ICJ has ruled against Diego Garcia US Navel Base,
Dinuk / March 19, 2019
True, true Dil,
The Neocon neoliberal project uses LGBTQ identity politics, as it also does and weaponizes ethno-religious identity politics to push the Washington Neo-Con militarization of Sri Lanka and Indian Ocean which should be a Zone of Peace.
The saree and masked clad NGO protesters for Bondscam Ranil got a bit carried away on the LGBTQ identity politics band wagon during the Mahinda Jarapassa – clown Sira Coup.
Raman / March 19, 2019
Dilhara,/Dinuk , Donstanley, whatever you call yourself.
Oh please do give us a break from this puerile bombastic rubbish. It isn’t funny anymore.If you want to talk to yourself, do it where same people can’t hear you.
Emil van der Poorten / March 20, 2019
Very well put, indeed!
I have to remember your rejoinder for future use on the pseudonymous idiots who use CT to propagate their hate messages!
Rarityminds / March 20, 2019
dont you think that people should open with LGBT issues. In Europe, they make election manifesto issue. So is the case in the US too. I think them to be branded as PONNAYA etc are horrible for their child’s growth. I am not into LGBT, but I can consider the feelings of them met, if I had a son or daughter would ask me to accept him or her regardless of the social perception in the country today.
I have lately watched several videos POSTED from lankens, there, I thought those kids should have gone mental struggle not being able to face the world, from the very day on, just a few have come up to share what they really feel about the permanent discrimination being practised in the country from that on.
Bunjappu / March 20, 2019
I HAVE A GREATER RESPECT ON Dr Chamindra Weerawardhana THE KIN D OF PERSONALITEIS: how could she cover a dissertaion, albeit permament discrimination in the country against her gender related stuff.
Anan / March 19, 2019
Yesterday, ( Srilankan — Sinhala/ Tamils ) was shourting in UNO, why, ? Borth People was coming from a land, Srilanka represent people was asking a question to M.P, Sritharan . and he tell this was not Srilanka Parliment, the question asked person was Ex, Army Commander: ( mad person and mad Question?) why Ex -Mahinda, didn’t tell what to ask ? , sorry,
Nosey Parker / March 19, 2019
Sorry mate , your comment is incoherent. Feel free to use the language you are most comfortable with , to make your point – if you have one .
sinhalese buddhist / March 19, 2019
I agree with you that Ranil and his co-hort who are as corrupt as MR and his cronies are hypocritical and need to be ousted from power.
But what I do not agree with you on is your labeling Ranil’s gang as the “gay” mafia. Some of them may be gay, but that does NOT mean all gay people are as corrupt as they are.
There are wife abusers and murderers who are straight. We do not label them “straight” murderers or “straight” wife abusers, do we?
Please do not generalize whole groups of people by just looking at the actions of a handful. There are plenty of gay Sri Lankans who are law-abiding and live honorable lives, unlike Ranil and his buddies in parliament.
Dilhara / March 20, 2019
Agreed Sinhala Buddhist, and thanks for constructive critic and response. More power to gay folk and may the audacity of hope live on..!
The point was that external parties are using ethnic, religious, LGBTQ and any and ALL sort of identity politics to Divide, Distract and Rule Sri Lanka, as these are troubled times as the US NEOLIBERAL empire is crashing out.
Please check out the book: ‘Cold War Monks: Buddhism and America’s Secret Strategy in Southeast Asia.” by Eugene Ford 2017 Yale UP. for how Buddhism was weaponized to build solidarity by the CIA against socialists and communists all over Asia, just as Islam was weaponized in Middle east and Afghanistan by CIA
JD / March 20, 2019
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JD / March 21, 2019
Do any of those who commented here have LGBT children, brothers or sisters, I wish they have such LGBT people and understand the true picture. LGBTQs really need help.
SJ / March 21, 2019
Do not patronize.
LGBTQ do not need ‘help’.
They deserve the fullest support from all reasonable thinking people to ensure that their right to equality is not denied.
K.Pillai / March 21, 2019
From ancient times, Sri Lanka viewed same sex relationships with understanding. Compare with the humiliation and mental suffering Oscar Wilde endured. There was the stigmatisation of the brilliant founder of Computer Science, Alan Turing, who took his own life. Sir Arthur C Clarke made SL (then Ceylon) his home because the society tolerated homosexuality.
In 2009, following an Internet campaign, the then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for “the appalling way Turing was treated”.
Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a posthumous pardon in 2013.
Same sex marriage was recognised in US during the tail end of the Obama era.
To cut a long story short: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity/Expression and Sex Characteristics [SOGIESC] Advocacy must follow public acceptance. This can be made possible if the rural people are made aware of the issue. To most the next meal is uppermost in their mind.
Sexual orientation of some of our present politicians and of yesteryear W Dahanayake are well known.
Dr Chamindra Weerawardhana has never directly addressed the rural Lankans.
Is she exploiting our present predicament to improve her portfolio?
PS: Chamindra is good political material of the Lankan kind.