The president of Sri Lanka has said his government won’t oppose a bill to decriminalise homosexuality – but added the bill must gain support before any laws change.
Speaking over this past weekend, president Ranil Wickremesinghe - who has held his role since July this year - said the government will not oppose a private member’s bill presented to parliament by MP Premnath C Dolawatte to decriminalise homosexuality.
Same-sex relationships are currently illegal in Sri Lanka.
Dolawatte’s bill seeks to decriminalise same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults by amending sections 365 and 365A of Sri Lanka’s penal code.
However, it will require support from individual members of parliament as the government has said that it is up to each legislator as to how they vote - a parliamentary technique described as a conscience vote, as opposed to when parliamentarians are required to vote as directed by their party's policy.
What's life like for LGBTQ people in Sri Lanka?
What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Sri Lanka? Let’s take a look at some of the key equality criteria.
Is homosexuality legal in Sri Lanka?
No. Same-sex sexual acts remain criminalised in Sri Lanka.
While a possible penalty of up to ten years in prison could be applied, this law is not currently being actively enforced.
Are there anti-discrimination protections in place for LGBTQ people in Sri Lanka?
Yes, there are some protections in place. Discrimination on the grounds of sexuality is considered to be prohibited by the country’s constitution.
Is there Marriage Equality in Sri Lanka?
No, there is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships.
What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka is a socially conservative country, and homosexuality is generally seen as a taboo subject.
Homophobia is systemic, and LGBTQ people conceal their sexuality.
While some protections against discrimination are in place, it’s believed that LGBTQ people continue to experience discrimination on a day-to-day basis.
Human Rights Watch has recorded a number of incidences of Sri Lankan police harassing and persecuting LGBTQ people.