President under fire over “butterfly” comments

President Maithripala Sirisena has come under fire over his “butterfly” comments made at the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) rally in Battaramulla last evening.

The President had accused former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of going behind butterflies, which was seen as a homophobic comment.

“Disgraceful and homophobic utterances by only showing us what a weak and pathetic leader he is. All citizens should be treated equally Mr. President,” Equal Grounds Sri Lanka tweeted.

Equal Grounds works for the social, political, civil and economic rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) community of Sri Lanka.

The LGBTQI community in Sri Lanka today condemned the statement made by President Maithripala Sirisena at a public rally yesterday.

Meanwhile, in a joint statement, the LGBTQI community said that President Sirisena had made a series of homophobic comments at the rally.

The President, who was in a Joint Government with the United National Front (UNF) led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, stated that former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe rejected national values and had entered a “butterfly life” [“samanala jeevithaya” in Sinhala], which implies a queer lifestyle.

Sirisena then commented that key decisions of government were made not by the President nor by party seniors but by Wickremesinghe and his “butterfly caucus” [“samanala rela” in Sinhala]. The comments were met with laughter and applause by those gathered on stage beside Sirisena, including Mahinda Rajapaksa who was appointed as Prime Minister by Sirisena.

The LGBTQI community called upon all Sri Lankans who respect the fundamental rights of each and every Sri Lankan for equality, justice and dignity to join with them in categorically condemning President Sirisena’s homophobia and public incitement of homophobic hatred.

Meanwhile, Former Minister Mangala Samaraweera also tweeted saying he would rather be a butterfly than a leech. (Colombo Gazette)

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