Brunch

A rainbow resolution

This past year paid witness to a year full of victories for the LGBTIQ community. Amongst some lows were overwhelming highs that deserve to be celebrated.

Here’s a peek at what we’ve achieved in 2018;

· The Inter-American Court of Human Rights; which makes up the human rights protection system of the Organisation of American States (OAS) ruled that Latin American governments have to allow same-sex marriages in their countries. The court decision sets a binding precedent in 16 nations

· Transgender identity is no longer classified as a mental disorder in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD). Now, instead, it is classified as a sexual health condition; this classification continues to enable healthcare systems to provide healthcare needs related to gender

· The Vatican used the acronym LGBT in an official document for the first time

· Yance Ford, an African-American producer and director was the first openly transgender man to be nominated for any Academy Award, and the first openly transgender director to be nominated for any Academy Award

· The Prime Minister of the UK, Theresa May, issued an apology expressing “deep regret” for Britain’s role in imposing colonial laws that criminalise LGBT people across the Commonwealth and the legacy of violence and discrimination that persists today. At the time of this apology, 36 of 53 commonwealth countries still had colonial-era criminalisation laws

· And possibly the most significant of all, for all South Asians – The Indian Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality, striking down the part of Section 377 that criminalised same-sex intercourse

On 6 September, 2018, the Supreme Court of India issued its verdict, unanimously ruling that Section 377 is unconstitutional as it infringed on the fundamental rights of autonomy, intimacy and identity, thus legalising homosexuality in India, and also, ruling that any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a violation of the Indian Constitution.

The new year is fast approaching and many are in the midst of their yearly resolution-making; some of which will be kept and most of which will be broken. But there also are those who do not have either option, they simply must stick to all, and these special resolutions are what shape the lives of everyone around us, everyone we love.

Here are some comments from a few community members and allies, expressing their thoughts on the past year and what they hope the next year would bring.

Gayantha Wickramarathne

“In 2019, I hope the Government will finally recognise and deliver proper respect to the LGBTQ+ community without making the community a scapegoat for their own political agendas. Following the example of India, the Sri Lankan legislators should also change the discriminatory colonial laws and make positive decisions which will inevitably create positive change within the LGBTQ community.”

Shamilka Jayasuriya

“Looking back at this past year, we witnessed the best thing that could’ve possibly happened to our community – we were referred to as “butterflies” by our very own President. I say this was the best thing because finally the cat was out of the bag. For years, the LGBTIQ community was ignored and pushed under the rug but in referring to it in his public address, albeit via negative connotations, the President acknowledged the existence of the community.
“We’ve finally addressed the elephant in the room, and I believe for the coming year, what we should do now is market this new found recognition in an intelligent and diplomatic way so that a word that was once a demeaning term may empower us. I think 2019 is going to be our best year yet, it should be a year to promote, advocate, and educate the country’s public on the needs of all communities, and not only the LGBTIQ community, but on equal rights, for everyone.”

Gava Bolonghe

“I don’t know if I’d call 2018 a particularly difficult year for the LGBTIQ+ Sri Lankan because of a homophobic comment made by a failed political figure. Existence of queer people has always been politicised for cheap political gain by all parties as we continued to be discriminated, violated, and assaulted while still at the risk of being abandoned by our own families.
“When queer people joined hands with other civil society activists to uphold the Constitution that vilifies our existence, it was with hope that one day it will be amended ‘legally’ to provide equal rights to all. I hope that in 2019 we look to our neighbours and other nations that have progressed in the forefront of human rights to make this world a better place and encourage social, political, and economical growth through inclusion.”

Wara Thiyagaraja

“It has been a very challenging year for the entire Sri Lankan community, particularly the LGBTIQ+ community in Sri Lanka. We were also affected by the constitutional coup as much as every Sri Lankan. We were not only demonised by the Head of State but state-sanctioned homophobia was also used against us by the President. But it is this suppression forced us to publicly stand against discrimination of LGBTIQ+ persons and the constitutional coup. It was a year where the LGBTIQ+ community realised that suppression will not sustain if we come together and extend our hands of solidarity with other groups.”

GaaPiNk

“2018 was such a good year for me, because I met with lot of people who really motivated me. There is so much to do in next year. Many still found it (LGBTIQ) unusual, but I’m happy that some artists like me and their decisions to be out and proud in their music serve the important role of visibility and inspiring hope in other beautiful souls who believe in themselves.”

By Dimithri Wijesinghe