Sri Lanka’s largest mainstream media organisation, Wijeya Newspapers, which owns the Daily Mirror newspaper and online platforms, has just launched the LGBT Pride Series “Being Human”. The series, being done in partnership with legal pro-bono organisation, iProbono, will feature video stories of LGBT Sri Lankans and their families, as told by them.
This is the first time that any mainstream media organisation in Sri Lanka has highlighted the stories of LGBT Sri Lankans. A major move and a strong statement in a country where same-sex consensual relations remain a criminal offence under the island’s 137-year-old penal code.
Sri Lanka’s penal code, much like India’s, is a relic of its colonial history as a British colony. Whereas the Indian Supreme Court struck down section 377 in 2018, Sri Lanka is yet to repeal its law.
In an unprecedented statement in 2014, Sri Lanka’s Attorney General declared that LGBT Sri Lankans are protected under the Constitution and that discrimination against them was unconstitutional. The Attorney General also declared that existing laws cannot be used in a discriminatory manner against LGBT people. These statements were repeated in 2017 and 2019.
In 2016, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court held in a sentencing appeal, that custodial sentences against two gay men for private sexual conduct was not warranted.
However, the statements and judgment hasn’t stopped harassment against and unlawful arrest of LGBT Sri Lankans by law enforcement.
The Being Human series attempts to share the stories of LGBT Sri Lankans, their loved ones, friends and families - as told by them.
Watch the trailer below:
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