Tamil LGBTQ voices face even greater risk in Sri Lanka

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07/19/2020

As the Sri Lankan state continues to ramp up its militarisation of the North-East, an already marginalised community has now found itself under greater threat. The Tamil LGBTQ community, which has long faced its own intra-community discrimination and struggles for recognition has in recent months come under mounting pressure. A military enforced lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and looming parliamentary elections has exacerbated existing inequalities. To gain a glimpse at the struggle for LGBT voices in Sri Lanka and in the North-East, we need to adopt an intersectional approach which recognises how social and cultural mores intertwine with state violence, geographical divisions, and issues of political economy. The criminalisation of LGBT identity on the island is often traced back to British colonial rule and the imposition of their penal code. Sections 365 and 365A11 of Sri Lanka’s penal code, are remarkably similar to the penal codes of other former British colonies, including India. Yet, since independence, over 70 years ago, Sri Lanka has not been able to get past its homophobic, transphobic, and bigoted legacy. Instead, we see that this mindset is embedded throughout society, from the rural villages to the highest offices in parliament.

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