ReportOUT commends the Sri Lankan government for its decision to support the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships within the country.
This is an important step for Sri Lankan sexual and gender minorities to love who they choose without fear of legal punishment. The decision should be celebrated as a victory for equality that all Sri Lankans should be proud of.
It is pleasing to see another Asian country, following India 2018, Bhutan in 2020, and Singapore in 2022 recognise the normality of such relationships as a part of the everyday social fabric of a nation.
We particularly acknowledge the tireless and fearless efforts of MP Premnanth C. Dolawatte, whose Private Members’ Bill is the basis for the decriminalisation decision, following his work to strengthen legal protection against anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination over the past few years. We also acknowledge the hard work of civil society organisations who have been the backbone of all of this work,
However, we also recognise that both the legal and civil society sector continue to highlight discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ communities in Sri Lanka and the battle for true equality is far from over.
ReportOUT’s experience across multiple nation states has demonstrated that legislation represents the beginning, not the end of the journey towards societal and institutional acceptance. We therefore urge the Sri Lankan government to uphold their commitments under their international human rights treaty obligations to ensure robust anti-discrimination laws are passed and they work in constructive partnership with NGOs to ensure both laws and best practice are embedded across governmental and civil society institutions. To feel equal is to live without fear of being who you are and this remains our fervent hope for all Sri Lankans.
Today is a positive first step.