Seeking Equal Rights (Sri Lanka)- Camelia Nathaniel Monday, April 06, 2015

The transgender persons are more often deprived of fundamental rights though they are human beings. They face a range of social and legal issues such as having to have identity documents without gender recognition, avoid sex-segregated public restrooms and other facilities, having to accept dress codes that perpetuate traditional gender norms, and to face barriers when they need appropriate health care. In Sri Lanka they have been extremely exposed to various kinds of discrimination including domestic violence, family discrimination, sexual harassments, educational limitations, right to employment, legal inequality, and harassments from law enforcement authorities. As a result, their livelihoods are severely affected.

In addition, they have to suffer from lack of shelter, HIV medical facilities, hygienic facilities, depression, hormone pill abuse and tobacco and alcohol abuse; problems relating to marriage, property, unemployment and adoption. Transgender persons have been forced to hide their gender preferences for a very long time for their fear of being ridiculed at, or shunned by even their own families. Hence it is high time that the Ministry of Law and Ministry of Social Justice recognise the deprivation that transgender people suffer from and work on much needed reform in this regard.


There is widespread myth in Sri Lanka that transgenderism is unsuitable for a Buddhist country even though Buddhism does not judge transgender persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Victorian morality came with the Colonial rulers who not only introduced laws prohibiting same-sex activities, but also influenced the local cultures to absorb and reproduce Victorian morality in the form of Buddhist and Hindu moralities.

There are a number of issues in terms with the protection of law that transgender persons receive. The Fundamental Rights Chapter in the Sri Lankan Constitution mentions that all persons are equal before the law. However the law does not provide the equal protection for transgender persons due to the non-recognition of their gender identity by the law itself. The vagrancy law, impersonation law and the criminalization of homosexuality have made such persons further vulnerable to the human rights abuses.


sister, peace, love