Sri Lanka Vows To Decriminalize Homosexuality, Protect LGBT Citizens

The country's commitment to law reform comes in response to a U.N. review.

The Sri Lankan government tells human rights experts that it plans to decriminalize homosexuality, Gay Times reports.

Gay sex is currently illegal in Sri Lanka under an archaic “gross indecency” law inherited from the country’s colonial past.

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Sri Lanka’s Deputy Solicitor General, Nerin Pulle, has pledged to reassess and change the country’s penal code in response to their third Universal Periodic Review, a United Nations Human Rights Council process in which U.N. countries scrutinize human rights records of other U.N. members.

The Sri Lankan government received seven specific recommendations to amend penal code sections that criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity, which is currently punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Other recommendations aimed to help fight anti-LGBT discrimination.

“The government is committed to ensuring that no provision in the law would be applied to persons of the LGBTIQ community in a discriminatory manner,” Pulle says. “Despite social, political and cultural challenges that remain with respect to reforming law, Sri Lanka remains committed to law reform and guaranteeing non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

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The Sri Lankan government rejected calls to change the anti-gay laws earlier this year but did ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

report released by Human Rights Watch last year found that homosexuals and gender-nonconformists in Sri Lanka were subjected to discrimination when trying to gain employment, housing, and health care. Many LGBT citizens polled revealed that they have been sexually or physically abused by local police, and more than half reported arbitrary detainment.

“No one deserves to be targeted by the law because of who they are or whom they love,” says Sri Lankan activist Rosanna Flamer-Caldera. “Whether LGBTIQ or not, we are all entitled to the full enjoyment of all human rights. We look forward to the government fulfilling on this commitment.”

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