I wish to give recognition to EQUAL GROUND as the only organization in Sri Lanka currently actively fighting for equal rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) community. Founded in 2004 EQUAL GROUND is also the oldest organization of this nature functioning in the country.
EQUAL GROUND advocates for the decriminalization of homosexual activity and the elimination of discrimination of individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The operating environment of Equal Ground is very challenging as Sri Lankan society is structured on strict gender roles and responsibilities, where anything different to heteronormative and binary gender standards is considered abnormal, deviant and deserving of punishment/discrimination. As a result of the colonial past, same sex relationships between consenting adults is deemed a criminal act punishable with up to 10 years in prison. As a result, social stigmas are attached to homosexuality and transgenderism. This stigma is heavily institutionalised resulting in the discrimination and marginalization of members of the LGBTIQ community and those perceived as members of the LGBTIQ community.
Due to the lack of understanding of gender identity and sexual orientation and misinterpreted religious/cultural doctrine, LGBTIQ persons are often forced into heterosexual marriages, subject to curative rape, or face violence within the confines of their homes and in public.
Individuals who are thus mistreated are denied access to justice and medical attention because they fear the repercussions of their ‘different’ sexual orientation or gender identity becoming public knowledge and also because the instances of further abuse at the hands of the authorities is a probable threat.