One of Sri Lanka’s top legal authorities has vowed to make changes to improve the rights of LGBTI people in the South Asia country.
Deputy Solicitor General Nerin Pulle made the comments after Sri Lanka underwent its third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) under the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The UPR the process in which every UN member state has its human rights record reviewed by other UN member states every four years.
Sri Lanka’s government received seven specific recommendations to amend sections of the Penal Code, which criminalize homosexuality. A further six states recommended that Sri Lanka adopt measures to combat the discrimination faced by the LGBTI community.
Pulle underlined the government’s commitment to reforming Sri Lanka’s penal code to ensure that it meets international human rights standards.
He also said LGBTI anti-discrimination measures will soon be made an ‘explicit’ guarantee in law.
Speaking at the UPR in Geneva, Pulle quoted a recent ruling from Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court of Sri Lanka: ‘The contemporary thinking [is that] consensual sex between adults should not be policed by the state nor should it be grounds for criminalisation.’
‘Despite social, political and cultural challenges that remain with respect to reforming law, Sri Lanka remains committed to law reform and guaranteeing non – discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity,’ he told the UPR.
Nulle’s comments came just months after Sri Lanka’s government shut down plans during a cabinet meeting to change the laws around homosexuality.
‘The government is against homosexuality, but we will not prosecute anyone for practising it,’ said Health Minister and government spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne at the time.
Sri Lanka’s leading LGBTI organization, Equal Ground, responded to the UPR recommendations.
‘No one deserves to be targeted by the law because of who they are or whom they love,’ said Equal Ground’s executive director, Rosanna Flamer – Caldera.
‘Our government has shown significant resolve in pledging to address the criminalisation faced by the Sri Lankan LGBTIQ community and guarantee them basic rights that have for so long been denied.
‘Whether LGBTIQ or not, we are all entitled to the full enjoyment of all human rights. We look forward to the government fulfilling on this commitment.’