Naming and shaming

29 01 2011

Are we instigating murder?

You may recall, the Sri Lankan media, under the directive of the Police Crimes Division, published photos of men and women who they claimed appeared in porn movies.  Subsequently, these people’s lives have been completely ruined. Some have been expelled from their homes and can never show their faces in society again.

In Uganda, a prominent gay rights activist was murdered in his own home, following a newspaper article that published pictures of several Ugandan homosexuals. The headline that appeared in October 2010, read “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos” and showed photographs of some of them. David Kato was among them. By the end of January 2011 he was murdered.

In the months in between, David had sued the Rolling Stone newspaper that carried his photograph for defamation. In the meantime The Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that people must stop inciting violence against homosexuals and must respect the right to privacy and human dignity. However, it seemed like no one really paid any attention to Kato’s action of suing, nor to the Supreme Court directive.

This is a lesson for all of us and a lesson for Sri Lanka too. By trying to name and shame people  who are different, either because they sell sex, appear in porn movies or have sex with people of the same sex, we create stigma and discrimination against them and also instigate violence.  In some cases, even death.

Do we want to sleep with blood on our hands?





Feeling Queerly this New Year?

2 01 2011

Never do I feel more resentful about heterosexual privileges than on Significant Days. Birthdays, New Year’s Eve, Aluth Avurudu are all designed to make me feel conflicted and low. It is family time and I love spending time with my family. But what enrages me is how difficult this time would be if I want to spend it with a partner – of the same-sex.

All around me, straight cousins and friends spend Significant Days with their spouses or with family, or both. If they don’t turn up at the family event on this Day, they are not asked why. If they do turn up, they are not expected to leave their spouses behind. If you are a straight married female, or even engaged, these are Days when you say ‘I am spending it with him’ and Society smiles fondly.

For those of us in this country who love women, such a scenario is a luxury. Unless you don’t have much to do with your family anymore (all too common in our community) or your family has accepted you just the way you are (I am happy for you. Really.) the day seems far away when we can choose to spend a birthday or Christmas with the woman we love without having to find excuses or feel guilty.

Happy New Year everyone, and here’s hoping you can spend the next New Year queerly!





39 reasons not to be a lesbian.

17 05 2010

(especially in Sri Lanka)

  1. You can dress how you like (well, more or less).
  2. You can have a cool haircut without everyone having a breakdown.
  3. Your brothers don’t laugh at your shoes.
  4. Your sister doesn’t say ‘its so gay!’ around you.
  5. Your mother doesn’t send you bible quotations on email.
  6. No one minds you holding hands with your girlfriend.
  7. No one minds you having loads of girlfriends.
  8. You can surround yourself with beefy men – so useful for mending the roof, driving you places and carrying heavy boxes up the stairs.
  9. You get to walk into rooms full of men with your boyfriend.. so no funny stuff.
  10. You can hold hands with your lover in public.
  11. You can flirt with your lover in public.
  12. You can kiss your lover in public (Well…you could try).
  13. You can walk into any really straight environment and no one looks twice.
  14. You can have pictures of your partner and children on your screensaver.
  15. You get to wear a wedding ring without anyone asking questions.
  16. You don’t have to hide your books when the kids come over.
  17. You don’t have to hide your DVD’s when the kids come over.
  18. You can sleep-over at your girlfriend’s place without raising eyebrows.
  19. You don’t have to lie when someone asks who your friend is…. that one who’s always hanging around…
  20. You don’t mind wearing a sari to work.
  21. You can use the women’s washroom without other women looking at you funny.
  22. You don’t have to explain why you live with a woman.
  23. You don’t have to explain why you don’t have a boyfriend.
  24. You don’t have to feel like the freak in every gathering (At least until you realize there are other women like you).
  25. You don’t have to know your parents are worrying themselves sick over something you couldn’t change even if you wanted to.
  26. You don’t have to unlearn virtually everything they told you.
  27. You don’t have to spend years of your life feeling guilty about loving someone.
  28. As a little kid you don’t have to spend a lot of time wondering what’s wrong with you.
  29. You don’t have to be the spokeswoman for your entire community.
  30. People don’t define you by your sexual choices.
  31. You’re not obliged to defend/hide your sexual choices.
  32. You can take out a loan with your partner.
  33. You can marry whomever you love.
  34. Your parents love your partner.
  35. You can plan your wedding.
  36. You can tell everyone you’re getting married and they will be thrilled.
  37. Once you’re married you can tell everyone you’re having a baby and they will be even more thrilled.
  38. You can adopt a child.
  39. You can name your partner as your beneficiary.