Members of the Sri Lankan LGBTQI+ community today categorically condemned President Maithripala Sirisena’s statement made at Government’s rally in Colombo saying he was promoting homophobia and public incitement of homophobic hatred.
They said in a statement that the President had made a series of homophobic comments at a public rally held on Monday and that those comments were met with laughter and applause by those gathered on stage besides Sirisena, including Mahinda Rajapaksa who was appointed as Prime Minister by Sirisena.
“The President, who was in a Unity Government with the United National Front (UNF) led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, categorically stated that Mr Wickremesinghe rejected national values and had entered a “butterfly life” [“samanala jeevithaya” in Sinhala], which implies a queer lifestyle.
Sirisena then commented that key decisions of government were made not by the President nor by party seniors but by Mr Wickremesinghe and his “butterfly caucus” [“samanala rela” in Sinhala].
These comments were met with laughter and applause by those gathered on stage,” he said.
The President said the homophobia openly promoted by the elected head of state makes it clear that the President had absolutely no notion or commitment whatsoever for the fundamental rights and human dignity of all Sri Lankans.
“It is particularly disappointing coming from a President elected on the votes of many members of the Sri Lankan LGBTQI+ community who saw his candidacy as a respite from the rampant homophobia of the preceding Rajapaksa presidency,” the statement said.
It said President Sirisena’s statement was a clear case of misinformation and was misleading his own party and supporters.
“We condemn his use of homophobia to amuse his political gallery. By trivialising homophobia in this fashion, President Sirisena should be held responsible for any homophobic incidents that Sri Lankan citizens may experience in the coming days,” the statement issued with signatories of 210 members of the LGBTQI+ community said.