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‘Sri Lanka’s 1st gay marriage ends in arrests for corruption’

Local media reports crackdown at Colombo house used as a gay rendezvous
Sri Lanka's local media reported the island's first gay wedding this month.
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Sri Lanka witnessed its first gay wedding this month followed by a state crackdown that saw the bride and groom, their relatives and other guests at the event in capital city Colombo arrested, Sri Lankan media reported.

Neth FM Balumgala, a local radio station, said the wedding was held in the capital on 16 August, observing all the traditional rituals, including the exchange of rings and vows.

The young bride was a school student and his mother and relatives attended the event, the radio station said.

Soon after the ceremony, 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.

Police also seized videos and books from the house.

The radio station quoted neighbors as saying that the majority of people who used to frequent the house were young male students.

A local television channel also reported the incident though the mainstream media remained silent.

Sri Lanka, which suffered a nearly three-decade-old violent insurgency ending in 2009 after the death of the chief of the dreaded Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, continues to outlaw homosexuality.

Section 365A of the penal code makes same-sex acts a criminal offence punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

In 1995, the law, which earlier applied only to homosexuality, was amended to become gender-neutral, extending to bisexuals, lesbians and transgenders as well.

There was no immediate news of what had happened to the people arrested.

The local media is mostly anti-homosexuality, taking pot shots at gay parades and gay fashion shows organized by advocacy groups.

Earlier, it had attributed anti-gay sentiments to President Mahinda Rajapaksa over the appointment of Norway’s new ambassador to Sri Lanka.

She was reported to be a lesbian and the media said Rajapaksa was determined that her partner would not be allowed in.

He was reported as saying that the Buddhist nation would lose its identity if it allowed same-sex activities.

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