Ten civil society activists have filed a writ petition in the Court of Appeal challenging the ever-rising abuse, harassment and discrimination against individuals of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) community, at the hands of the Police.
The petitioners are seeking a Writ of Prohibition preventing Police from conducting training sessions, lectures or seminars which dehumanize and discriminate against the LGBTIQ community in the country.
President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena appearing for the petitioners supported the writ petition before the Court of Appeal last Friday (12). Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justice Sobhitha Rajakaruna and Justice Dhammika Ganepola fixed the petition for further support on November 30.
The petitioners Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Tamara Andrea Flamer-Caldera, Jade Sison Jayawardena, Anusha Shyami David, Gowrie Ponniah, Savithri Roseanne Rodrigo, Chamindra Katugaha, Marisa Sharika Anjali Jayewardene and Kalpanee Nuwangee Gunawardana had filed this petition on behalf of the rights of LGBTIQ community in the country.
They have cited Inspector General of Police C.D. Wickramarathna, Ama Dissanayake, a counsellor and psychologist, who conducted a training program at the Police Auditorium in Kandy and Deputy Inspector General of Police Chandana Alahakoon as respondents.
The Petitioners state that according to an island-wide survey conducted by the petitioners in 2020-2021, titled “Mapping LGBTIQ Identities in Sri Lanka”, 12% of the total population who interviewed for the survey, identified themselves as LGBTIQ, a projected total of 1,469,574 individuals, within the projected base of persons between the ages of 18-65 in Sri Lanka.
The Petitioners state that it is now common knowledge that members of the LGBTIQ community face grievous prejudice in their daily lives, and, most concerningly, that they even find themselves in situations that pose a direct threat to their lives and wellbeing, at the hands of other individuals and public authorities.
The petitioner’s further state that as per the Police Performance Report 2018, 48 gay men were charged and prosecuted for apparent “homosexuality” from 2016 – 2018, under Vice Squad raids.
According to the report prepared by Human Rights Watch in 2016, LGBTIQ individuals in Sri Lanka have been arrested and detained without cause, and have been subject to sexual and/or physical abuse and
even raped by police officers.
The Petitioners state that this situation is a result of the misconceptions, and lack of education on the LGBTIQ community, as well as homosexuality itself.
The petitioners said the second respondent Ama Dissanayake was seen and heard, conducting a training program at the Police Auditorium in Kandy, proclaiming to the entire audience of police officers, most explicitly that homosexuals in Sri Lanka are predatory, and inquired from the participants of concern about their children falling prey to homosexual individuals. She has further stated that homosexuality is a complete affront to social and biological norms, as such relationships cannot result in procreation.
The petitioners said the video relating to police the councillor educating and encouraging Police officers to discriminate against the LGBT community has been uploaded in its entirety on the YouTube Channel.
The Petitioners state that Police should immediately stop conducting the programs, which dehumanize the LGBTIQ community since it does not adhere to basic human rights standards and is in patent violation of Article 12 of the Constitution, which states that everyone is equal before the law and has a right to equal treatment before the law. (Lakmal Sooriyagoda)