Human Rights Commission Chairman for decriminalising homosexuality | Daily News

Human Rights Commission Chairman for decriminalising homosexuality

The arguments to cast aside the proposal to decriminalise homosexuality on the grounds of ‘culture’ simply do not hold water, Human Rights Commission (HRC) Chairperson Dr. Deepika Udagama said.

Speaking in favour of decriminalising homosexuality, she said the HRC has been receiving many complaints lately over various threats, prejudices and attempts to arrest due to their sexual orientation .

The Chairperson reacting to the recent comments over the issue, said it was a matter that cloud not be cast aside trotting out ‘culture’ as a reason, adding that deeper analysis and wide social dialogue are needed about it.

She said the non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation should be included into the Constitution, adding that the HRC has already communicated it to the Constitutional Assembly.

However the Chairperson said the draft of ‘National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights 2017-2021’ has not been referred to the HRC so far. “Several parts of it were sent to us and we sent our observations on them. However, we are still unaware of the draft action plan that was presented to the Cabinet this week. It could have been better if it was referred to the Commission prior to presenting it to the Cabinet. The Commission will ask for a copy of it from the Foreign Ministry. The Commission has a role in examining the legislation from a human rights angle and advising the Government on them, but many draft policies and Bills do not reach the Commission and we have to search out for them ourselves” she complained.

Dr. Udagama said the HRC looks at the issue of decriminalising homosexuality from a scientific and human angle, adding that the country has a history of stalling progressive legislation citing ‘cultural implications’ as excuses. “In 2005, when the Prevention of Domestic Violence Bill was presented in Parliament, the same argument on ‘culture’ came up during its debate. In the same way, even now some say homosexuality is against our culture. However, if all segments of the society are not incorporated or allowed to have their natural behaviour, there is a serious problem in that society,” she noted.

She pointed out that the country’s policies should be framed not based on religious beliefs, but on common grounds. “We need to tolerate the differences among various groups of our society. We cannot move forward if we become judgmental, reject other groups or label them. All citizens must have the space to live respectfully,” she commented. 


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