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SRI LANKA

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Discrimination Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

The Constitution provides in Article 12 [L1.4]

(1) All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to the equal protection of the law.

(2) No citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any one of such grounds:

There are two provisos concerning non-discrimination in employment and language knowledge two further sections concerning access to public places and women, children and disabled persons


On 14 August 2016, the Human Rights Watch published a report on the abuse of LGBTI human rights in Sri Lanka focussing primarily on abuses experienced by transgender people - including arbitrary detention, mistreatment, and discrimination accessing health care, employment and housing - and also includes examples of discrimination and abuse experienced by individuals based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, many of which are related to a lack of acceptance of gender non-conformity [D1.3], [R1.2].

On the 7th and 8th of October 2014 at the OHCHR in Geneva] Ms. Bimba Jayasinghe Thilakeratne, Additional Solicitor General with the Attorney General's Department of Sri Lanka additionally reiterated, "Article 12.1 ensures equality for sexual orientation and gender identity" and that under Article 12.2 "laws discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity are unconstitutional." However, she specified, "Sections 365 and 365A [of Sri Lanka's Penal Code] do not target any particular group but are there to protect public morality." These provisions - commonly known as anti-sodomy laws - criminalize "unnatural" sex and "acts of gross indecency," including homosexuality and lesbianism.[R1.1].

[Ed: Article 12.2 refers to "sex" not "sexual orentiation" or "gender identity" and it is submitted that it is unclear as to whether a Court would find that the word "sex" includes "sexual orientation" or "gender identity".]

L1.4 Parliament of Sri Lanka: The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka PDF 3.33MB, 09 SEP 10
D1.3 Human Rights Watch: All Five Fingers Are Not the Same: Discrimination on Grounds of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Sri Lanka PDF 2.75MB 08 AUG 16
R1.2 HumanRightsWatch: ''All Five Fingers Are Not the Same'' 14 AUG 16
R1.1 IGLHRC: Sri Lanka Government Says LGBT Rights Are Constitutionally Protected 20 OCT 14
Homosexuality, Sodomy Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

Penal Code (as amended by the Penal Code (Amendment) Act, No. 22 of 1995)

Article 365. "Unnatural offences" —

Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend ten years, and shall also be punished with fine and where the offence is committed by a person over eighteen years of age in respect of any person under sixteen years of age shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than ten years and not exceeding twenty years and with fine and shall also be ordered to pay compensation of an amount determined by court to the person in respect of whom the offence was committed for injuries caused to such person.

Article 365A. "Acts of gross indecency between persons" (introduced by the Penal Code (Amendment) Act, No. 22 of 1995

Any person who, in public or private, commits, or is a party to the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any person of any act of gross indecency with another person, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years or with a fine, or with both and where the offence is committed by a person over eighteen (18) years of age in respect of any person under sixteen (16) years of age shall be punished worth rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than 10 years and not exceeding 20 years and with a fine and shall also be ordered to pay compensation of amount determined by court to the person in respect of whom the offence was committed for the injuries caused to such a person [R1.1].

The provision contravenes the international human rights standards.


In 1994, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, under the Optional Protocol of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, to which Sri Lanka is a signatory) considered sections 122 and 123 of the Tasmanian Criminal Code, provisions similar to Section 365A of the Sri Lanka Penal Code. The Committee found that the provision violated articles 2 and 17 of the ICCPR which, respectively, prohibit discrimination and protect privacy.

In May 2001, the Companions on a Journey group of 1400 members were actively pressing for decriminalisation of homosexuality and reported there had been no prosecutions for homosexuality in Sri Lanka since 1950, but same-sex relationships could still touch a raw nerve in the largely Buddhist country [R1.2].

R1.1 University of Minnesota: Penal Code Chapter 19 PDF 1.97MB, 19 JUL 02
R1.2 Reuters: "Sri Lankans Coming to Terms With Gays" 23 MAY 01
Marriage Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

On 16 August 2013, a same-sex couple were reportedly married in Colombo however officials from the anti-corruption unit swooped down on the house, reportedly used as a meeting place by the gay community, and arrested the bridal pair as well as bystanders [R1.1].

R1.1 GayStarNews: 'Sri Lanka's 1st gay marriage ends in arrests for corruption' 31 AUG 13

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