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?





Would you get married if you could?

15 08 2010

I have always doubted the whole institution of marriage. My parents had a terrible one. My mother married young and it just killed her spirit. They separated after about 7 years and divorced sometime later. My grandparents, as far as I remember, were happily married although my grandfather once told me, rather morosely, he gave up ballroom dancing because his wife didn’t like it….he still wanted to dance…but that’s beside the point.

What I am talking about here is good marriages, based on trust and faith in today’s context….in the age of the internet and online sex. A marriage in which people are together because they want to be with each other and that alone keeps them together. Not children, not a shared bank account, not the lack of finances and not your families. Just you and the other person, wanting to be together.

I haven’t seen too many couples around me who are truly happily married in this fashion. That’s not to say there aren’t any. It’s just that I haven’t seen too many.

So in the West, when lesbians and gay men started wanting to get married, and advocating for the same rights as straight people, I looked on with scepticism and doubt. I kept wondering “Why should we want to ape what straight people have, why replicate an institution that has failed in our current context.

Why can’t we try and create something different?”

We often spoke of this among friends. Many gay people I know have migrated to the West from Sri Lanka and the rest of the sub continent, because they can’t be themselves in their home countries. Some went as asylum seekers, some migrated legally to work, most just went as students and found ways – legal or otherwise, to stay on. Some have obtained citizenship overseas and are thinking of gay marriage as well. But that’s because in some countries, lesbians and gay men can get married. Canada is one such country – full of Sri Lankan immigrants! In Europe, the Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway are a few. I think there are others including Belgium and Spain. In the UK, same sex couples can enter into a civil partnership. Some states in the US also have this system of Civil Union or partnerships. However a marriage and a Civil Partnership are not the same. Far from it.

For example, in a marriage, the relationship is recognized across cultures, countries and religions. Although I marry in Anuradhapura, it would be accepted and recognized in Afghanistan. Not so for a civil partnership. That would be recognized only in the country where it was performed. Worse still -if, as a Sri Lankan, I chose to marry an Australian, we would be able to choose to live either in Sri Lanka or in Australia. Not so for a gay couple. Gay couples being forced to separate because of immigration regulations are more common that we realize. (I believe there was a film made on this subject as well!)

There are loads of other benefits that married people have that the rest don’t. Getting a bank loan together in joint names is another. Or a joint insurance policy, Or a joint club membership. People who aren’t married, can’t do these things together.

So I find myself now advocating for rights to marriage  – for those who want it, that is. It should be equally accessible to gay people as it is to straight folk. I think civil partnerships are a poor replacement, but better than nothing at all and far better than being considered criminals in your own country!





Citizenship, homosexuality and equal opportunities

20 06 2010

“For those of us who are heterosexual and conform to the sexual behaviour expected of us, we enjoy the perks of citizenship without much thought. But the recent events held to commemorate Pride week, and discussions held around issues that haunt the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual (LGBT) communities in Sri Lanka, brought up the fact that, for these communities, citizenship remains a vexed legal, socio-political subject….”

http://catseyesrilanka.wordpress.com/2010/06/16/citizenship-homosexuality-and-equal-opportunities/





Man and man, woman and woman

16 06 2010

Politicians in Iceland have passed a law legalising gay marriage…

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/06/11/icelands-parliament-unanimously-approves-gay-marriage/





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.