(MENAFN- Colombo Gazette)
The LGBTQI community in Sri Lanka continue to face harassment, rights groups informed Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa.
Premadasa and key members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) held a round table discussion with LGBTQI rights organisations.
The round table was held at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition and was led by the new National Reforms Secretariat of the SJB. Over 30 LGBTQI activists and rights organisations participated in the discussions.
MPs Sarath Fonseka, Buddhika Pathirana, Ranjith Maduma Bandara, Tissa Attanayake and former MP Hirunika Premachandra also participated in the discussions to express their support to the LGBTQI community.
The National Reforms Secretariat has been set up in the Opposition Leader's Office in order to reach an agreement on the social transformation demanded by the general public to create a modern Sri Lanka.
The Secretariat aims to seek the views of all segments of society to assist the Opposition formulate solutions to the gravest economic, political and social crisis Sri Lanka is facing at present.
Matara District MP Buddhika Pathirana is the Chief Secretary of the new Secretariat and former Weligama Chairman Rehan Jayawickreme is the Assistant Secretary.
This is the first time that a major political party and the Opposition has engaged with wide discussions with the LGBTQI community. The SJB has publicly committed to non-discrimination and equality for the LGBTQI community and has institutionalised their commitment through setting up an internal LGBTQI Reforms Committee, headed by Rehan Jayawickreme. The Reforms Committee is responsible for formulating the SJB's policy on addressing discrimination and persecution of Sri Lanka's LGBTQI community.
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa expressed dismay at the continued harassment and violence faced by the LGBTQI community, particularly at reports of police persecution. He was also briefed on the wider issues faced by the community, including in employment, housing and education.
The Opposition's round table comes in the wake of a Private Member's Bill submitted by SLPP MP Premnath Dolawatte to amend sections 365 and 365A of the Penal Code and decriminalise same sex relations. President Wickremasinghe and several political parties have expressed their support for the Bill. (Colombo Gazette)
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