On Wednesday (08 December 2021), the Court of Appeal granted leave to proceed with a petition filed by EQUAL GROUND and others, against the Inspector General of Police C. D. Wickramaratane, Deputy Inspector General of Police of the Kandy range Chandana Alahakoon, and purported counsellor and trainer, Ama Dissanayake for allegedly violating the rights of and discriminating against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTIQ) community in Sri Lanka.
After the Writ petition was supported, the two-judge bench comprising Justices Sobhitha Rajakaruna and Dhammika Ganepola, declared that there is a cause of action and ordered Court to issue notice to the respondents in the Petition.
EQUAL GROUND was also supported by an intervening petition filed by three petitioners as interested parties, including those of the LGBTIQ community. The court ordered them to be added as respondent-petitioners.
This is the first time in Sri Lanka that a case of this nature has been filed, where law enforcement has been challenged by an organisation over alleged discrimination against the LGBTIQ population in the country.
In November this year, EQUAL GROUND – Sri Lanka’s oldest organisation advocating for LGBTIQ rights – with others filed a petition in the Court of Appeal seeking a mandate in the nature of a Writ of Prohibition against the conducting of a training programme for the Police where malicious, erroneous, and discriminatory remarks were made about the LGBTIQ community.
At the training programme held in July 2021, Dissanayake claimed that “homosexuals” in Sri Lanka are preying on others, especially the youth, trying to make them a part of the LGBTIQ community. She asserts that being LGBTIQ is unnatural and goes against biological and social norms, as such relationships do not lead to reproduction. She then asks the participants to vocalise, loudly, that they are against such relationships.
The Petitioners seek a Writ of Prohibition preventing Sri Lanka Police from conducting trainings, lectures, seminars, etc. that marginalise and violate the fundamental rights of LGBTIQ people in Sri Lanka. The permitting and sanctioning of vilification, dehumanisation, and condemnation of persons with different sexual orientations and gender identities/expression by law enforcement does not adhere to basic human rights standards and is in violation of Article 12 of the Constitution.
President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena appears for the petitioners.