Sri Lankan cabinet decides not to de-criminalize homosexuality

These sections have been used by Sri Lankan law enforcement authorities to arrest persons suspected of engaging in homosexual relations.  

Published: 18th January 2017 04:40 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th January 2017 04:40 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan cabinet has decided not to de-criminalize homosexuality, cabinet spokesman and Health Minister Dr.Rajitha Senaratne said here on Wednesday.

But asked if there is a possibility of homosexuals being arrested under the existing law which criminalizes homosexuality, Senaratne said there is little likelihood of arrests as people indulge in homosexuality indoors, and therefore, it cannot be proved.

Senaratne said that the cabinet removed provisions in the National Human Rights Action Plan 2017-2020, which would have led to the decriminalisation of homosexuality. The cabinet approved the Action Plan with amendments.

“There was a clause which stated that one ‘cannot discriminate anyone based on sexual orientation’. This could be later used to challenge other things in courts. So we asked that it be removed,” the spokesman explained.

“Even in Europe, there are strong Catholic countries that do not support homosexuality. We are a Buddhist country and we too are against it,” Senaratne said in justification of the decision. 

He assured that everyone is free to practice homosexuality, if they so wish, but the government will not make way for it by legalizing it, he added.

On arresting homosexuals he said: “No one is being arrested for it. It (the homosexual act) is not done in the open. So how can you prove it?” the spokesman asked.

Section 365 and 365A in the Penal Code specifies that, “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal’ or “gross indecency with another person” is a crime that can be punished with imprisonment.

These sections have been used by Sri Lankan law enforcement authorities to arrest persons suspected of engaging in homosexual relations.  

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