The Sri Lankan government has decided to keep its law that makes homosexuality illegal after a vote that took place among its leaders earlier this week.
Despite the decision, cabinet members did agree to update their Human Rights Action Plan with an addendum that bans discrimination against someone based on his or her sexual orientation.
Although the update seems like a step in the right direction, the Sri Lankan LGBT community fears it won’t stop facing abuse as long as a law exists that tells people homosexuality is wrong.
While gay people in the island nation consistently report harassment due to their sexual orientation, transgender and gender non-conforming people are also subject to discrimination and abuse.
A report released by Human Rights Watch last year found that homosexuals and those who don’t conform to gender norms were subjected to mistreatment and arbitrary detention, and were discriminated against when trying to gain employment, housing and health care.
Many of the LGBT citizens polled revealed that they have been sexually or physically abused by local police at one point, with over half of them saying they’ve been detained by the police without any reason given.
“The LGBTI community needs laws that protect us, not harm us,” Sri Lankan activist Rosanna Flamer-Caldera told Human Rights Watch. “We expect the new government to scrap discriminatory laws and protect our human rights. We urge the government to be in open dialogue with us.”