Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Towards Sri Lankan Queer Liberation: A Global-Sri Lankan Reflection For Pride 2017
Dr. Chamindra Weerawardhana
In this festive period of Pride celebrations across the world, a peculiar incident takes place in Sri Lanka, with increased mobilisation of the Buddhist monks, who are apparently opposed to the proposed new Constitution. The multitude of disagreements on the Constitution, and especially on what goes in the Constitution within the Joint Government itself have repeatedly come to light. Debates that are necessary and somewhat intriguing are taking place, which is just about the only positive sign.
On 4th July 2017, academic and diplomat Dr Dayan Jayatilleka published an article in defence of the Justice Minister (given the Justice Minister’s publicly expressed hatred of Sri Lanka’s LGBTIQA community – yes, let that sink in – LGBTQIA people who are Sri Lankan nationals, including this writer, his name will not be mentioned in this article). The following passage provides for an interesting reading:
[I quote]
These rootless cosmopolitan civil society caucuses have a disproportionate influence not only on but in the Government and government policy. Their heroes and heroines are Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, ex-Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and ex-President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. It is these NGO networks, their expatriate backup and their handlers in foreign capitals near and far, and Colombo based Embassies and High Commissions, who have cheered on a so-called “reform agenda” which has caused a situation in which this deadlocked government is sinking in a quagmire, assailed on every front every day, by semi-spontaneous public agitation. Individual Ministers are besieged by increasingly angry crowds.      
These caucuses, whether they know it or not, objectively serve foreign and anti-Sri Lankan interests. They have given the Government a profile similar to that which the UNP was depicted as possessing in the famous ‘Mara Yuddha’ cartoon of 1956. In its updated version, the public perception is of a UNP dominated, driven or disproportionately influenced by non-national, foreign interventionist, LGBTIQ and Evangelical elites or lobbies. President Sirisena’s SLFP is therefore seen as a mere tail of such a UNP (emphasis mine).
This statement carries tremendous significance. The point made here is a fundamental factor that every single human rights advocate, and supporter of the Joint Government (especially those in the LGBTQIA community) ought to come to terms with. This statement is also suggestive of many of the ills, problems and challenges in present-day Sri Lankan politics.
Two opposed sides in collision?

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