DIG Ajith Rohana acknowledged that there are isolated incidents of discrimination of LGBT persons, but added that the Police are working towards eliminating them by introducing sensitising programs in the police training curriculum.
The Executive Director of EQUAL GROUND Rosanna Flamer-Caldera sat with DIG Ajith Rohana, Professor Camena Guneratne from the Open University, Ms Ambika Satkunanathan of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, and Dr. Paikiasothy Sarvanamuththu of the Center for Policy Alternatives to discuss how to combat discrimination of LGBTIQ persons.
The discussion took place to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), EQUAL GROUND said in a statement.
The discussion revolved around the commitments made by the Government of Sri Lanka during its Universal Periodic Review in November of 2017.
During the panellist’s presentations, DIG Ajith Rohana strongly emphasised that no one should be discriminated because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
A highlighted point that was repeatedly discussed was the importance of social change following policy change and how the narrative should be shaped when challenging the laws that criminalise same-sex conduct.
Dr Sarvanamutthu strongly believed that there is power in numbers and representation. He suggested that it is time that families rally behind the movement.
He urged parents and grandparents to strongly question the law and file for a class action lawsuit demanding for the decriminalisation of their children and grandchildren.
From a policy change stand point Professor Camena stated that even though the constitutional reform process is in the back burner there could be a possibility of explicit protection offered to the LGBTIQ community through expansion of the fundamental rights chapter. This reform, coupled with an introduction of post-enactment of judicial review of all legislation that is inconsistent with the constitution can nullify the criminalisation of same-sex conduct as stated in Penal Codes 365 and 365A of Sri Lanka.
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has taken a strong public position in including explicit protection for the LGBTIQ community.
In Ms Satkunanathan’s presentation, she discussed the importance of not only sensitising the general public and civil society organisations but also the staff at the HRCSL to be empathetic and non-judgemental.
The LGBTIQ community can also use other forms of legislature such as arbitrary violence and torture to safeguard themselves from unauthorised searches and questioning. Ms Ambika also urged that community members make use of the HRCSL’s complaint mechanism to report violations. (Colombo Gazette)