ALL FIVE FINGERS ARE NOT THE SAME – REPORT – SRI LANKA

This report was published by Human Rights Watch in 2016. It is based on interviews with 61 LGBTI persons in 4 cities. The report describes experiences of discrimination faced by LGBTI persons in Sri Lanka. It notes that LGBTI persons are susceptible to abuse by the state, including arbitrary detention, lack of access to healthcare, employment, and housing.

SOCIAL ATTITUDES TOWARDS LGBTI PERSONS

The report notes that homosexuality is still a criminal offence in Sri Lanka. It observes high levels of conformity to gender roles and gender stereotyping in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, it states that this has made gender non-conforming persons more likely to face social stigma and discrimination. The report also attributes discrimination to other factors, such as ethnicity, language, religion, and education.

GENDER RECOGNITION:

Changing one’s gender identity in important documents is still not possible in Sri Lanka. The report observes that there is no definite procedure. It also criticises a circular released by the Ministry of Health regarding gender-recognition for its overemphasis on psychiatric and medical diagnoses. In other words, it noted that the government has not paid attention to the right to self-identify one’s gender.

VIOLENCE AND DISCRIMINATION:

The report drew attention to the Sri Lankan police’s disregard for human rights. It also stated that gender non-conforming persons had been arrested on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, without any proper cause or evidence.

Furthermore, the report notes that transgender persons face ill-treatment in public and private sectors, such as denial of access to employment, housing, and healthcare services.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The report proposes some reforms that the government should undertake to protect LGBTI persons from violence and discrimination. This includes introducing anti-discrimination laws which list gender identity and sexual orientation as prohibited grounds of discrimination. The report also calls on the Parliament to decriminalise same-sex relations. It stresses that police and medical practitioners are made aware of LGBTI rights.

READ THE REPORT HERE