28 May, 2017

Sri Lanka’s Homophobia & Our Silence

By Dinidu Karunanayake

Dinidu Karunanayake

Dinidu Karunanayake

The Sri Lankan society in general is homophobic, and it notoriously prides itself on being so. During a recent public speech, monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara berated the current government for being “impotent” on grounds of homosexuality. “Today the country is governed by a group of homosexuals. This is a very serious concern…. I can recall the entire list, like The Dhammapada. There are about a hundred of them, and all of them are homosexual….” he yelled. He even went into naming several members of the cabinet, and called them a “p-set,” a term derived from a Sinhala slang word for “a person without male or female genitals.” In a separate incident, speaking to The Daily News on December 10, 2015, JVP parliamentarian Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa made a similar statement about homosexuality. Asked about his stance on LGBT rights, Dr. Jayatissa asserted, “I am totally against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) rights. This is not the need of the human being. We need a future generation.” Coming from two vastly different political backgrounds—monk Granasara from a neotribal “Sinhalese Buddhist” nationalist background, and Dr. Jayatissa, a Marxist nationalist background—it is noteworthy that both see eye to eye about homophobia. This piece of writing is not meant to be a personal attack on either the monk or the doctor, but a brief examination of an extremist line of thinking embraced by these two, who by and large represent and speak to a larger community of the country. This is also a follow-up response to a much-needed dialogue initiated by Ramindu Perera, Thiyagaraja Waradas and Upul Wickramasinghe.

Nalinda Jayatissa

Nalinda Jayatissa

Several observations can be gleaned from monk Gnanasara’s speech. On the surface, it is a hate speech intended to entertain his followers, to make them feel proud of their own “patriotic” urges which are coded as “masculine.” However, we cannot simply dismiss his claims as such. The monk conflates “homosexual” with “napunska” (“neither male nor female”), revealing a common opinion held by many Sri Lankans. This betrays not only his homophobia—his hatred towards another minority community in the country—but also a gross ignorance about biology and socio-cultural behavior. It must be noted that this is not a unique problem the monk singularly undergoes. As a society in general, Sri Lanka deleteriously stereotypes the queer community so much so that masculinity is invariably a test. The likes of Gnanasara step into the robes of cultural judges and keep demanding laypeople for “masculine valor” by spearheading the wars they have conceptualized.

The monk refers to science to prove his point: “Don’t forget, psychologically, biologically, medically…, it has been proven that a bond between two homosexuals is a hundred times more destructive and powerful than a bond between a man and a woman.” It must be noted that in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. The monk seems to be referring to the late twelfth-century Christian writing or the nineteenth-century European medical discoveries. It is easy for an uninformed speaker to misguide a passionate mob with misinformation. It is easy to spread hatred. In a post-war society that revels in triumphalism, integrating homophobia into nationalist rhetoric is also a strategic move used by public speakers like monk Gnanasara to keep the sparks of enmity alive.

On the other hand, as a recognized medical professional, Dr. Jayatissa has a professional and official voice to advise on sexuality. His academic and professional trajectory is awe-inspiring and exemplary. Also, his decision to enter the Marxist political stream in order to deliver justice far and wide is admirable. However, it is surprising and at the same time frustrating that, as a medical professional, he echoes monk Gnanasara’s logical fallacy:

“Scientific experiments reveal this kind of emotions come out due to stress. When people go through stressful periods or are in such environments, unnatural feelings come out. For example, we do not see this behaviour when they are living in the wild. However, if they are caged, we would see this behaviour. I believe in marriage between man and woman. Same sex marriage is unnatural. It is against the evolution of the human being.”

Similar to the monk’s line of thinking, Dr. Jayatissa considers the queer community as “undesirable.” His rationale also makes us question loopholes in the prestigious medical education that only a small percentage of the student body is privileged to have. I wonder about the type of advice a homophobic doctor like Dr. Jayatissa would offer a queer patient who is bewildered by his/her “inadequate” contribution to society, having listened to speakers such as monk Gnanasara.

Even though Dr. Jayatissa is clearly repulsed by a non-heteronormative person, he still claims that he cares about the young generation whom he considers “the future” of the country. He reiterates, “The youth must have a backbone and stand against injustice, inequality and suffering. Then they can open their minds and stand firm…. So if we want to develop this country, all these educated and dedicated youth should get together.” It is ironic that he envisions an all-inclusive justice with the youth participation while excluding the LGBTQ community, an essential component of the population. Unarguably, all of us should stand against injustice, inequality, and suffering. But first of all, we need to identify all those moments of injustice that are rendered ineligible and illegitimate. While the JVP is searching solutions for social injustice, some of the real problems are falling through the cracks!

To begin with, we need to question our own silences, both intentional and unintentional. We need to “open our minds” as Dr. Jayatissa proposes, but with a socio-political awareness. As James Baldwin once said, “If one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected–those, precisely, who need the law’s protection most!–and listens to their testimony. Even though Baldwin was not a Marxist, he reminds us about layers of injustice and discrimination that go unnoticed by those who are invested in social justice in official and unofficial capacities.

*Dinidu Karunanayake is a PhD student at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, USA. He can be reached at priyankp@miamioh.edu

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  • 12
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    Galaboda Atthe Borussara is a walking sphincter that becomes elastic and spews forth shite .. Unfortunately there are too many fools who are willing to listen to his particular brand of poison. Many claiming to be “Buddhist” The sooner someone runs him over with a heavy truck, the better!
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      Galaboda Aththe [Edited out] is not genuine. HIs mediation has created all high harms in Aluthgama -DID YOU guys listen to the public speeches made by him prior to the riots wave triggered there ? Those were the words even most quiet and silent would go to relatiate. Those were the powerful provocations as nobody would do in public stage. But that was done by them with the patronage of MR regime. This was not second to the incident- MR personally abused the law in the country by visiting a most powerful drug dealers like Lanza shortly before he was about to be arrested by police – remember ? There MEEHARAKA Rajapakshe turned up by using state helicopter to settle the issue, protecting the man – from being arrested…. that is how former idiotic president reacted. This Galaboda pseudo monk an over aggresiv criminal hidden behind the SANGA costumes. If I were part of today s cultural ministry, I would have gone that far to collect all the crime related evidence the man s behaviours has created during the high days of Mr Medamulana and Nations most barbaric man -Gotabaya.
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    A few thoughts. Homophobes are mostly hypocritical and latent homosexuals themselves. Why do so many VVIPs in Sri lanka marry and pretend to be heterosexuals? Why does a certain VVIP favor his gay lovers for favored positions?Why is he accused by very buddhimath people of sexual harassment? Homophobia is a carry over from Victorian double standards and CHRISTIANITY and its prudish behavior. Buddhism does NOT condemn homosexuality at all. It talks about excessive sexual behavior and in one of his teachings he talks about the harmful effects of alcholism, promiscuity, gambling addiction etc. It is called the Sigaalovaada sutraya. So if we take promiscuity of hetero or homosexuals we know for example via Anal sex by not protecting oneself HIV spreads; unprotected sex with multiple partners can lead to STDs including Chlamydia, Herpes, Gonorrhea, syphilis etc. HIV is largely a homosexual disease in west whereas in Africa it is via hetero and homo bi sexual behavior without condoms. Being gay is normal and people are born gay or effeminate or lesbian while a few are converted by pedophile Catholic priests etc or by school behavior. But mostly homosexuality is as natural as hetersexuality.
    • 0
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      Patakis: So, if some one complains about homophobic nature of some individual or a country, what does it say about the individual ?
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    Decriminalized sodomy. Aggressively promote sex education and tell people bluntly if you jump from one partner to another and have unprotected anal sex, you run the risk of HIV and AIDS and DEATH. EDUCATE PEOPLE. The rank hypocrisy there is nauseating. So many men from upper classes marry females but are homosexuals. Their wives are miserable not ever being able to have an orgasm. They turn to drivers and cooks and neighbors for sexual release. Their husbands from VVIPs to top businessmen(even the one who was very famous candy man) engage in favoritism and have male partners and pretend to be married. Why not focus on aggressive use of condoms by homosexuals who engage in anal sex which is of course unnatural (but damn good even for some heterosexuals to engage in) in the biological sense that sex is for procreation. I would suggest you focus on aggressive combating of HIV spread via promiscuous unprotected sex by homosexuals, male prostitutes, beach boys, and female prostitutes and also IV drug users. Lesbian behavior cannot lead to HIV. Heard in Croatia there is a legend of an intellectual PhD female married to a homosexual VVIP supposedly having a great long tongue to use on her lesbian lovers.Because Croatia is conservative and catholic the VVIP cannot openly be honest about his homosexual effeminate preferences and his mother did not allow it and forced him to marry. In Sri Lanka, I am glad there are successful leaders from Matara who are openly gay and have done a fantastic job of putting SL on the map after being a pariah nation for 5 years. People engage transsexuals and transgendered hookers on Dickman’s road and go back to their wives pretending to be working late.
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      Patakis – “Homophobes are mostly hypocritical and latent homosexuals themselves”. You hit the nail on the head! Most of these homophobes use this stance as a psychological crutch to try to help themselves overcome their own desire for members of the same sex. This so-called monk exposes himself by the virulence of his speech and the instigation of his (they have got to be ultra-stupid) ‘followers’ to think like he does. As for the Doctor, he is only exposing his own ignorance and prejudice when he says that ““Don’t forget, psychologically, biologically, medically…, it has been proven that a bond between two homosexuals is a hundred times more destructive and powerful than a bond between a man and a woman”!! I wonder where he picked up that little gem of misinformation??!! He then goes on to say, “The youth must have a backbone and stand against injustice, inequality and suffering. Then they can open their minds and stand firm…. So if we want to develop this country, all these educated and dedicated youth should get together.” So if he wants “the youth … to stand against “injustice, inequality and suffering”, what the hell does he mean??? He is clearly against LGBT, but doesn’t consider his stance to be against “”injustice, inequality and suffering”!!! He is obviously either thoroughly confused or utterly stupid! Give us a frigging break!
  • 9
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    Dinidu Karunanayake RE: Sri Lanka’s Homophobia & Our Silence “The Sri Lankan society in general is homophobic, and it notoriously prides itself on being so. During a recent public speech, monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara berated the current government for being “impotent” on grounds of homosexuality.” Very Interesting comimg from a Buddhist Monk. The Buddhist Monks and Christian priests are generally Homophilic, and they specialized in Younger boys. Let’s see the data and observations. Child Abuse by a Monk in Habaraduwa. The Monk gives the “Proper” Education! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNSC93mPs4I Uploaded on May 29, 2010 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.
  • 18
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    Dinidu Karunanayake Sri Lanka’s Homophobia & Our Silence 1) The Sri Lankan society in general is homophobic, and it notoriously prides itself on being so. During a recent public speech, monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara. *** My friend you have got everything in a twist. The following is the correct order if you want to become a Millionaire. The Sri Lankan Society is a) Tamilphobic b) Muslimphobic c) Hinduphobic d) Islamaphobic as a result e) claustrophobic ( I mean sea to the south Tamils to the North) and it is not going to get any better. They are not proud but scared.
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      kali, “e) claustrophobic ( I mean sea to the south Tamils to the North) and it is not going to get any better. They are not proud but scared. ” Wow! You hit the nail in the head!
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    Nalinda Jayatissa looks [Edited out]. There is enough evidence out there that homophobia is a repressed form of homosexuality.
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/
  • 1
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/
  • 0
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    The question that should be asked is whether Sri Lankans are willing to see men kissing in public with other men?
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      It’s already there at Dutch Hospital with men and women who are gay or lesbian respectively. These are mostly westernized US educated narcissistic people. This happens every weekend. They do it for shock effect. Most speak broken English and are eager to interact with white Americans. The LGBT agenda is from USA. the author proves it because he’s getting PhD in literature in the US. really literature? What an useless unemployable field of higher education. He’ll end up working in USA. BUT I am FOR decriminalization of Sodomy laws even when the CHRISTIAN nation that brought those laws have repealed them no sense in India and Ceylon to still have those in the books. Sodomy covers anal sex even if it’s consensual. I am not sure if cinnilingus between 2 women lesbians can be illegal when men also love (or the better lovers like myself) to perform cunnilingus on their female partners. Now emotional love between 2 men, 2 women etc is not the same as sex but inextricably linked to sexual acts and sadly defined by those rather than the concept of romantic love which is missing in nations with arranged marriages. But sometimes even without sex for example when a top homosexual politician is in an arranged marriage with an avowed lesbian they have an interesting intelligence based intellectual relationship but they have sex like a [Edited out] separate from each other. There’s nothing wrong with it. Society and a domineering mother gets the son married off because otherwise he’s not accepted . Imagine how happy people will be if ridiculous Sodomy laws don’t exist. Gnassara seems very much a closest gay man.
    • 2
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      Goraka ” The question that should be asked is whether Sri Lankans are willing to see men kissing in public with other men?” Good question, however its not relevant to the discussion. The question is whether Sri Lankans have the stomach to withstand the onslaught of noisy minority. Men and women affectionately holding hands in public is seen as committing crime/sin let alone kissing each other in public.
      • 0
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        @Native Vedda “Men and women affectionately holding hands in public is seen as committing crime” So True Men holding women’s hands and exhibiting affection is “cheeeeeeya !!!!” and apparently they are pursued by the Police in pursuit of Decency In the Coastal Flora of Wellawatte (according to others on CT) But many men/boys hold hands with each other is not percieved sexually at all How Odd !!!
  • 2
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    This Ghanndassara’s comment should not be dignified by such a lengthy analysis. That proven womanizer , drunkard and law breaker in robes is pure filth.Why is the fellow concerned with the sexual orientation of our politicians? We don’t care what they do in in their bed rooms as long as they govern the country properly. Behind the mad man’s utterences is the shadow of Gotabhaya Rajapakaya of Medamulana.
  • 3
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    I live in Canada and I see this crap everyday. I do not have a problem with gays but when they try to flaunt and wave their lifestyle in front of my face every bloody day and expect me to forcefully accept this garbage I have a problem with that. I am straight and I do not flaunt that in front of gay people and expect them to accept that. Respect goes both ways!!!!
    • 4
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      @Tamil from the north “but when they try to flaunt and wave their lifestyle in front of my face every bloody day” Can you give us an example ? This is MOST interesting. I really did not know Canadian Culture included LGBT people coming in front of a straight person and doing a twerk in their leather chaps and bared bottoms in his/her face.. In winter, it must be a cold exercise, no ? Tell me, do people in Canada wear signs identifying their sexuality ? How do these people know who to flaunt and wave their lifestyle in front of ? Do you wear a big sandwich-board saying “Straight Tamil From The North” ? Or is it smaller, something like a regimental badge that all Canadians are obliged to wear ?
      • 1
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        @Malumaaris, I am part of the Toronto Downtown financial sector. Leading up to the Pride week celebration, we were constantly fed this garbage day in day out. We were told it was important that my team had to follow Human Resources policies and watch and report any adverse reaction to any homos. People were fired for stating their opinions to safe guard the interests of these types. Straight people were told to asked to help out in gay events and when refused they were noted. The education curriculum has been changed by the Premier of Ontario who happens to be a bloody lesbian. Small children are taught at a young age that they need to accept LGBT (Lesbians, Gay, Bi and Transvestites) and intolerance will not be accepted. Why do my kids have to go through this rubbish. Are the homos taught that they need to accept straight folks like us? So if you do not live here and if you do not experience this rubbish don’t throw your garbage around.
  • 6
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    Mr.Nalinda Jayathissa (MP) and Mr. Tyson Fury are right. Why do some people adapt psychopathic and retarded LGBT way of life? In most cases they are born into broken families, they were abused by bad people when they were young, they were neglected by their parents,their father or mother was a bad roll model, depressed, confused (e.g if a boy is surrounded by way too many women then the boy will get confused about his gender,) declined mental health, living in fantasies, etc. Their NGO funded organization set up offices close to schools and prying on youngsters and they are on buses as well. Accepting weirdo LGBT’s alternative life style as normal is a sign that the end of the world is near. By the way it is funny when misogynist singer Elton John talks about human rights, because Elton abandoned his wife, he does not look after or visit his elderly mother, and he separated his babies’ mother at their birth, that is the worst of this people’s behavior because baby needs to be fed by his mother,and separating mother and baby is evil!!!! On a positive note: LGBT’s unnatural way of life style can be cured.
    • 3
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      Looks like Clinton is one of those repressed and latent homosexuals hoping against hope that “LGBT’s unnatural way of life style can be cured.” Wishful thinking, Clinton! Better come to terms with your prejudice and let it all hang out!
      • 4
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        So in your stupid view, those who oppose disgusting behavior is a latent homo? The Outlet should never be the Inlet! get it? You are bound for hell if you keep going into ‘you know where’.
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          @Clinton “The Outlet should never be the Inlet! get it?” I hope you never get hemorrhoids. For then, you will be screaming for the outlet to become the inlet so that the suppository prescribed for you can be inserted Who knows, you too may feel some sense of indescribable joy at that moment !
          • 2
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            @maalumiris, You enjoy your immoral life style, nobody wants to here it.
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              Clinton well said.
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      Your knoweldge on the issues seem to be limited – I am afraid. There are even highly intelligent ministers, lawyers, doctors, and other kind of higher professionals have to accept themselves that they are gay by birth. This is the real stories from the west. So, I believe, this is written in their genetic code how these guys would have to go through with their sexual orientation. Whoever doctor added his thoughts, we must not go against the genetics and biochemistry of met people. Having lived on the west for the last30 years, I have no disrespect to gay or leSbians. They work in the same manner as the straight ones like us would do. They have every rights to ask for their rights. For me higher criminals like Rajapakshes are thousand times worst than these men and women with their inherited sex orientations. I dont look them down upon. They are also human beings for me. This is what we feel while being onthe west.
      • 0
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        We got many feminine guys in Europe. SO nobody cares what they are. What costumes they wear etc. They are not isolated as it is the case in our places. If my aged parents knew how this world treat them, they would collapse on the spot. Mostly barbers and fitness trainers are gay. And MOSTLY stewards are gay. Body builder-women are mostly lesbians. And the way, they argue in daily life, we can notice they should be lesbians or heteros. Manly behavior of women make it easy someone to know they should be lesbians. Even transexualmen and women are integrated in European socieities. Who cares, they live their life and we live ours. At the begining all these were too much for me, but now with the time, I dont care, so long they are kind and helpful. Mostly their gesticulations make them evident to others that they should NOT be straight men. There are also cases, you cant know that guy is gay or straight. Unlike in our countries, they are not discriminated in western world. That is good, but older generations even today are not 100% supporting gay and lesbian people. Some parts of the west, they still use the terms as derogatory. However, our place, they would butcher you if they find a relative or friend to be gay or lesbians. My parents thought that all that were busy with cricket in the country were no good. It was all because those men looked like no better to beach boys. This was in 70ties.
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        @maalumiris, You enjoy your immoral life style, nobody wants to here it.
  • 8
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    Clinton “On a positive note: LGBT’s unnatural way of life style can be cured.” How? “Accepting weirdo LGBT’s alternative life style as normal is a sign that the end of the world is near. ” Are you one of those loony born again Christians who carries a billboard informing the public ” The End Is Nigh – Apocalypse”? As long as your bum is safe from LGBT you do not need to worry.
  • 3
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    Culturally alienated, disaporic authors like you have no idea what Sri Lankan Culture is all about! Simply abhorring the idea of culture they think that for 2500 years our people has been a nation of moroons.
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      Dil “Culturally alienated, disaporic authors like you have no idea what Sri Lankan Culture is all about!” What is this Sri Lankan culture? Could you shed some light on this neglected area.
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    It is interesting and brave to write on the topic but I doubt whether national newspapers and popular media are ready to publish this type of articles. It’s a pity. To me though the issue is part of a package that really needs to be pressed ahead as a whole, but not in bits and pieces. It won’t work that way. The final objective is to make Sri Lanka a truly liberal country. However, at this point of time we see Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism, Tamil nationalism and wahhabism is spreading like wildfire in various parts of the country.In other words I can hardly imagine any politician from any background, be it from the North, South or the East, is brave enough to fight for LGBT rights in Sri Lanka. It is even more saddening that, as it has been pointed out by the thero, a government with so many gay politicians in high places are not willing to speak up. Essentially those who don’t stand up for themselves will never ever stand up for others. That is the real danger we are facing today.
  • 0
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    Is this the new Norwegian brief to Galaboda Gnanissara to help Ranil and Mangalan to consolidate their base and get the upper hand in the Yahapalanya? ..
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    There are thousands of idiot priests who do not know Lord Buddha’s teachings. This priest does not know The Path of Compassion and Wisdom. He only knows hate. He does not know Mettā (Pali) or maitrī (Sanskrit). He does now know of Buddha’s teachings of Loving Kindness. He only knows of Queen Victoria and her hate law making homosexuality illegal. Until Queen Victoria made it illegal in the United Kingdom and all the British Colonies, being homosexual was not illegal in Lanka. We just didn’t care. Homosexual acts were just part of the background scene, though 99% of men married and had children (to satisfy society) and a small percentage indulged in homosexual acts outside of their heterosexual marriages, and still do.As for priests, it is common knowledge that most homosexual acts in Sri Lanka occur between celibate (i.e. unmarried) priests (both Buddhist and Roman Catholic) and sadly, and far too often, with their acolytes (abithayas) and choirboys. There should be a law against hypocrisy and ignorance, and a repeal of Queen Victoria’s law against homosexuality. Why should Sri Lanka be burdened with yet another phobia?
  • 1
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    Page 8/309 of http://www.unicef.org/srilanka/Full_Report.pdf Sexual behaviour A fair proportion of in-school adolescents appear to be sexually active. Among 14 – 19 years olds in school, 6 % reported that they have experienced heterosexual intercourse while 10 % reported having homosexual relations….. About 10 % of early adolescents and 14 % of mid and late adolescents in school admitted to have been sexually abused sometime in their lives. More boys (14%) than girls (8%) were abused during early adolescence. About 10 % of out-of-school adolescents reported being abused. Perpetrators of abuse in early adolescence were mainly a family member (38%) or a relative (27%). Among mid and late adolescents the commonest perpetrators (38%) of abuse were still a family member but the proportion of outsiders rose to 35 %. Little more than quarter of early adolescents was aware of sexua l abuse and awareness increased with age.
  • 0
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    You are an imbecile retard Dinidu , do not come to SL , stay in US for good. PHD morons like you deserved to be stay offshore
  • 0
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    Duminda has written a very good piece. But looking at the comments below, i realized why we need an education on so many issues before even thinking about starting a dialogue on socio-political matters. Opinions taken as facts are as dangerous as ignorant taken as intelligent.
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    I believe that everybody deserve a to marry the one whom they love. This isn’t even shouldn’t be matter so big. Who people sleep with is no bodies business. For those who say LGBTQ gets together because of sexual desires, I pity them. What if someone say the same to them. Legalizing this will be the right and most human thing to do.

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