The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning community in Sri Lanka have raised concerns over being ignored in the Government’s National Human Rights Action Plan.
The Government published the much-anticipated National Human Rights Action Plan for 2017-2021 this week.
EQUAL GROUND commended the Government of Sri Lanka’s attempts to advancing the rights of Sri Lankan citizens.
“We are especially happy to see that the Government has taken measures to protect the rights of Trans persons by including non-discrimination based on ones Gender Identity in the Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Constitution. This advancement would help us address the various forms of harassment the Trans community faces from society as well as law enforcement on a regular basis,” EQUAL GROUND said.
EQUAL GROUND however said it is unfortunate to see that regardless of the Government‘s acknowledgement to International treaty bodies and the Government’s commitment in the National Report to the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka to eliminate discriminatory provisions set forth by the Penal Code (Section 365 & 365A criminalises carnal intercourse against the order of nature and acts of gross indecency committed in private or public, which is widely understood to target same sex activities), as well as guarantee non-discrimination on the basis of Sexual Orientation, the NHRAP 2017-2021 has failed to follow up by not including Sexual Orientation as a basis for protection against discrimination in the fundamental rights chapter of the constitution.
“We welcome the advancement to Sri Lankan citizens’ human rights protections today and commend in particular our government’s commitment to protecting those discriminated against as a result of their gender identity. We at EQUAL GROUND believe that all Sri Lankans should be afforded the freedom to live their lives without fear of oppression, violence or discrimination. This includes those who are targeted as a result of their sexual orientation, a group conspicuously missing from the action plan. The work we do everyday exposes us to the reality of those living under threat of violence because of whom they love. These are vulnerable communities that need and deserve protection from the state, to the same level as all other Sri Lankans. We hope the Government sees fit to re-dress this missed opportunity and to include sexual orientation where appropriate as a protected characteristic. Human rights are for all of us, ” Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, Executive Director of EQUAL GROUND said.
Section 6.6.4 of the NHRAP 2017-2021 includes an action to eliminate discriminatory practices within the health care setting based on ones perceived or actual sexual orientation.
EQUAL GROUND says this shows that the Government of Sri Lanka is aware of such discrimination occurring, at least in the healthcare sector.