Jun 182012
 
Equal Ground Rainbow Kite Festival 2009

With Colombo Pride in full swing, Sri Lanka gay rights group Equal Ground has started a drive to petition the government to repeal the country’s colonial-era laws that are used to criminalise same-sex sexual relations.

But unlike other former British colonies such as Singapore and Malaysia, Sri Lanka’s laws also specifically prohibit lesbian sex. Under Section 365A of the country’s penal code, homosexual acts are punishable by a jail term of up to ten years and only applied to men prior to 1995. However, in 1995, the law was amended to be “gender-neutral,” resulting in the criminalisation of both male and female homosexual activity, according to a UNHCR report quoting local a NGO.

The petition hosted on change.org notes the laws remain on the books although no one has been convicted under these laws in the past 50 years. It also adds that while the laws (“any act of gross indecency”) apply to both homosexual and heterosexual sex, only homosexuals are labeled criminals under 365 and 365A of the Penal Code of Sri Lanka.

LGBT individuals may be forced into arranged marriages by their families and “in extreme cases there is curative rape of lesbian and bisexual women”.

“Violence in all forms is perpetrated against LGBT persons across the board, by family members and society at large. This violence, and resultant discrimination, is further validated by the behaviour of authorities towards LGBT persons who are often blackmailed, ridiculed and in some instances raped. Shame and internalised homophobia still remains, causing LGBT persons to go deeper and deeper underground. In several reported cases, LGBT persons have committed suicide because they can no longer live with the pressure put on them by families and society to conform to the heterosexual ‘norm’.”

“A law that is over one hundred years old, which directly hinders equal rights for all, no longer serves its populous. Such a law must be revoked. Consensual sex between adults should not be policed by the State nor should it be grounds for criminalisation.”

The eighth Colombo Pride is held 17-24 June featuring an LGBT leaders workshop, an art and photo exhibition, film, pride party and kite festival, and are held with the support of the Norwegian Embassy, the US Embassy, the Swiss Embassy and The Goethe Institute.

Click here to sign the petition.

http://www.fridae.asia/newsfeatures/2012/06/18/11751.petition-to-repeal-sri-lankas-gay-sex-laws

 

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