President Sirisena under pressure to tender an apology President Sirisena under pressure to tender an apology
Nov 09, 2018

“Maithri suffers from homophobia” Featured

Members of the LGBT community and certain civil society activists allege that president Maithripala Sirisena suffers from homophobia, according to BBC Sinhala Service.

The allegation comes after he referred to UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, at a public rally in Colombo four days ago, of having entered a life of ‘butterflies.’

However, cabinet spokesman Mahinda Samarasinghe refutes their claim, saying the president did not refer to any particular sexual community when he said so.

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Sometimes the word ‘butterfly’ is used to refer to a non-heterosexual person.

LGBT rights activist Thiagaraja Varadas, a university lecturer, says the president’s remark amounts to ‘hate speech.’

Varadas has told BBC Sinhala Service that the damage from it would occur to the poor, rural members of this particular community.

According to him, what the president has said is a portrayal of the rural middle class notion on the LGBT community.

Has there been a society recognizing LGBT rights, he could easily have used the term ‘VIP gang’ instead, he said.

This is not the first time the president has spoken against them, Varadas said, noting that in 2016, he boasted that he had dropped from the human rights national plan the provisions to recognize this community.

If the LGBT community’s opinion is incorrect, the president should tender an apology, he said.

Many other countries recognize LGBT rights

Sri Lanka’s laws remain the same, whereas many other countries have changed theirs to recognize LGBT rights.

Lawyer Radika Gunaratne charges that clauses 365 and 365 (A) of the Penal Code are being used to repress members of the community.

According to the country’s law, being LGBT is a criminal offence, and such persons do not have gender identification or gender orientation and are subject to harassment by society.

The law is enforced against the LGBT community and not to ensure justice for them, Gunaratne added.