EQUALGROUND is proud to announce that our Executive Director Rosanna Flamer-Caldera was awarded the Zonta Women of Achievement Award for Social Impact last Sunday night the 17th September 2017 at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel. Since 1985, the Zonta Club 1 of Colombo has actively sought to celebrate women who have excelled in their respective fields and have contributed towards national development.
Upon receiving the award Rosanna acknowledged that “this is not simply a win for me and the past seventeen years of my work, but it is a milestone in my career to know that the LGBTIQ community has been recognised as an important part of society, solidifying that our communities’ issues are just as paramount as any other marginalised group in this country.”
With the work Rosanna and EQUALGROUND has been doing, the LGBTIQ community has reached a point of recognition that would have been controversial ten years ago. We are now beginning to see slowly but surely, that the tides are changing. Businesses and mainstream society are beginning to see that it is time to accept and support the LGBTIQ community.
Rosanna’s had this message to share on receiving the award; “I am dedicating this award to every LGBTIQ person & any kid out there who has faced some form of verbal, physical or emotional harassment – stand tall, bow down to no one and know that you create the path you take. There are opportunities and options available, always. Even if it feels that your world is on fire and you feel helpless and cornered. It is up to you what you make of the situations that are presented to you. Take every stone that is thrown at you and build your castle, one stone at a time. It is what I have done and continue to do, every day!”
EQUALGROUND is the only organisation in Sri Lanka to hold annual PRIDE celebrations – an important event in the Sri Lankan LGBTIQ calendar. EQUALGROUND works very hard to provide for the needs of the community each year giving the LGBTIQ community of Sri Lanka the space to stand up tall and be proud of who and what they are. PRIDE in Sri Lanka is currently on a small scale and whilst we hope to one day march the streets demanding our rights, the current political climate coupled with the oppressive laws against LGBTIQ persons, impedes a peaceful march. Therefore, PRIDE celebrations take place as private, yet very public functions attended by persons from all over Sri Lanka. PRIDE has grown from strength to strength. Each year a diverse range of events are held to encourage the Queer community to come out and be proud. It is also an educational and sensitizing exercise where the message of diversity is addressed in a holistic way paving for better understanding and acceptance of the Queer community by the larger Sri Lankan citizenship. Events include workshops, dramas/shows/musicals, film festivals, art & photo exhibitions, parties, the kite festival and so on.
An interesting array of events are scheduled for this year’s biggest PRIDE celebration in Sri Lanka. For more details on each and every event, please check out our Colombo PRIDE Facebook page. Colombo PRIDE is one of the oldest PRIDE Festivals in South Asia launching in 2005 with a modest Pride Party. In 2006, for the first time, a week long schedule of events was planned to great success. Since then Colombo PRIDE has grown in strength, not only in numbers attending but also the number of varied events that have been presented over the years.
An integral part of Colombo PRIDE has always been the LGBTIQ Film Festival. Formally known as “Celluloid Rainbows”, Abhimani is the only International LGBTIQ film festival in Sri Lanka and the oldest LGBTIQ Film Festival in South Asia. It is held each year in conjunction with Colombo PRIDE and presents a collection of Queer short and feature length films from countries around the globe.
We thank our loyal sponsors and partners without who’s assistance this would not be possible!
134 years of criminalisation!
134 years of marginalisation!
134 years of discrimination and the blatant violations of our rights! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
So many ways you can join the campaign!
1. Sign the PETITION
2. VIDEOS – …because a video speaks volumes
3. POP-UP EVENTS – A great excuse to meet people, discuss great ideas and change the world
4. PROMOTIONALPARAPHERNALIA – care about it? wear it.
5. TALKABOUT IT – if you know someone who knows someone who can do something, we want to know that someone
EQUALGROUND is happy to assist with video-making, pop up events, paraphernalia and so on. We have Stickers and Badges that can be distributed at Pop ups and discussions.
Our Facebook page can help in creating a platform for discussion -join now. It will also feature videos from folks who are supporting the 134 Campaign and events information (Pop ups, forums etc).
Be a part of the 134 Campaign!
Individuals belonging to or perceived as belonging to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) community in Sri Lanka have been discriminated, marginalized, harassed and persecuted, for over 134 years, by friends, family, law enforcement authorities and Government agencies and society as a whole.
A major factor contributing to the alienation of the LGBTIQ community stems from the criminalisation of LGBTIQ persons under sections 365 and 365A of the Penal Code of Sri Lanka. These laws must be struck down now but the Government of Sri Lanka is not convinced there is enough people in this country that worry about this law or want this law stuck off the books. One way in which we are trying to do this is by getting people to sign the online petition we are launching today, called the 134 Campaign for the number of years the LGBTIQ community has been subject to all kinds of violence and discrimination.
The following is what we emphasise in the campaign on change.org.
134 years of criminalisation!
134 years of marginalisation!
134 years of discrimination and the blatant violation of our rights! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
How can we allow a law to continue criminalising people for loving and caring for each other? How is sex between consenting adults a crime? Sections 365 and 365A of the Sri Lankan Penal Code provide for the criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning (LGBTIQ) and even heterosexual persons for engaging in “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and “acts of gross indecency”.
The discrimination and marginalisation of the LGBTIQ community began with the imposition of this law by the British Empire in 1833; 134 years ago. According to historical records, homosexuality was not deemed criminal conduct in Sri Lanka prior to this piece of legislation.
Sri Lanka is signatory to 27 UN treaties and conventions which are based on the inherent dignity and equal right of all human beings. The country has an obligation to adhere to the international human rights standards. Many countries have moved away from marginalizing the LGBTIQ community and moved towards accepting and including the LGBTIQ community and other minorities as equal citizens. The Sri Lankan government however, operates on the premise that Sri Lankan society is homogenous, heterosexual and heteronormative. As a result it believes that there is no need to change this law because of the silence the LGBTIQ community is forced to maintain.
Will you watch in silence while your fellow citizens are being arbitrarily arrested for looking different, for loving different, for being different? The law actually legitimises this blatant misuse of power vested in the law enforcement authorities and this issue needs to be dragged up from under the carpet where it has been shoved!
The Sri Lankan LGBTIQ community is not asking for more rights than you; the community is asking for the same rights that you enjoy. The right to walk unmolested on the roads; the right to seek redress for violations; the right to proudly embrace who they are; the right to love.
The law as it is, traps LGBTIQ persons in the closet. Closets are dark spaces. Bad things happen in dark places. Help let the light in.
EQUALGROUND, the only LGBTIQ advocacy organisation in Sri Lanka is proud to announce the launch of the first LGBTIQ lifestyle magazine in Colombo today. Aptly names EQUALITY, it is the first magazine of its kind to be published in Sri Lanka amidst a burgeoning and thriving lifestyle publications industry in this country.
For 12 years, EQUALGROUND has served the LGBTIQ community and its allies with the ‘Rainbow News’ newsletter. The switch to a lifestyle magazine was made to create a wider platform for members of the LGBTIQ community to express their opinions and showcase their talents while appealing to all audiences in Sri Lanka.
“Our intention was to create a platform where the LGBTIQ community of this country can contribute in all three languages. So that irrespective of your area, race or social status any member has the equal opportunity to come forward and express themselves,” said Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, Executive Director of the EQUALGROUND. “It is also a platform for young entrepreneurs, photographers, artists and others from the community to be featured creating publicity for their craft or business,” she added.
With the launch of ‘EQUALITY’, the first of its kind in the country, EQUALGROUND has taken a step towards a more accepting, united, happy and humane society.
EQUALGROUND is a nonprofit organisation seeking economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) community of Sri Lanka. We are committed to creating a safe space for all LGBTIQ individuals and to providing opportunities for self-help including mental wellbeing, economic, social and political empowerment, access to health, education, housing and legal protection for the LGBTIQ community. EQUALGROUND is the only truly mixed organisation in Sri Lanka which includes the wider identities of the LGBTIQ community in Sri Lanka as well as our heterosexual allies and friends.