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Speaker: Gayatri Khandhadai

Thank you, Madam Vice President.

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the Women and Media Collective draw the attention of this Council to the situation in Sri Lanka.

Since the bombings on 21 April, the country has been under a state of emergency, where the police and the security forces have sweeping powers to search and detain citizens. The president imposed a partial internet shutdown in the weeks following the bombings, which was detrimental to citizens’ access to critical information. This has also proved to be ineffective in the face of heightened violence and discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities. We are deeply concerned by the president’s attempt to reinstate the death penalty in Sri Lanka after a moratorium of more than 40 years.

This ongoing state of emergency has already had a huge negative impact on marginalised communities and persons in Sri Lanka, especially in increasing the vulnerability of LGBTIQ persons.

Consensual same-sex relations between adults, even in private, continue to be criminalised under sections 365 and 365A of the Penal Code. These provisions legitimise violence and discrimination against LGBTIQ persons by state and non-state actors. We call for the immediate repealing of these draconian and discriminatory provisions. As long as they remain on the books, it is in direct contravention of the Sri Lankan government’s commitment to the rights of the people and to this Council. We also call on all states to support the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity here at UNHRC, as this is an important avenue for LGBTIQ persons around the world to have a voice.