- Butterflies for Democracy is LGBTIQ community members coming together under a common banner against homophobia, misogyny, racism, sexism and inequality
- We are no longer a hidden community quaking in our boots, but a vibrantly open and brave community that are willing to risk their lives and their reputations to fight for democracy and freedom
In the light of the recent political turmoil in our country it is fair to say we have witnessed, and not for the first time, the ugliness of politics in Sri Lanka. That politicians from all sides can play with our lives, squabble pettily and behave in the most ungracious and ugly way is so unbecoming of their stature and goes to reiterate that politicians are only in office for their own gain and have no good intention to serve the people as they should rightly be doing. That our President, the highest power in the land, stoops to flinging homophobic slurs, wishes his wife, who apparently worships him on bent knee each day, is born a man so she will reach the ultimate avatar on her way to nirvana is only indicative of the decay of sensibility and good character that is prevalent in this land today.
Butterflies for Democracy is LGBTIQ community members coming together under a common banner against homophobia, misogyny, racism, sexism and inequality. From the first protest at Liberty Circle along with the Pro-Democracy groups protesting against the complete disregard the President has shown for the constitution and democracy, the Butterflies for Democracy came together to protest at the President’s use of the word Butterfly to derogatorily refer to the PM and some of his cabinet members’ perceived sexual orientation in an offensive fashion. However, the latest protest by the LGBTIQ community at Lipton Circle on December 7, 2018, was to remind those factions in the government that are anti-LGBTIQ, that we are citizens of this country deserving of all rights as outlined in our Constitution. We are also voters who have the might of over four million strong in this country. Our parliamentarians must work for us, not the other way around. It is time therefore, that democracy is restored in our island nation. It’s time for changes to afford rights for all citizens. It’s time for legal reform to change the archaic British Laws criminalizing consenting same sex relationships. It’s time to embrace equality and forward thinking and make our country a beacon of hope, tolerance and acceptance for all.
As the press release on the protest said: “Politicising and denigrating the LGBTIQA community has been the mantra of conservative politicians in order to garner votes and scare people into thinking that being LGBTIQ is some sort of sickness or perversion – neither of which is true and neither of which can be proved scientifically or medically.” What is even more worthwhile is that this is the first time the LGBTIQ community have come together to step out publicly, showing their faces proudly, to demand their rights. We are no longer a hidden community quaking in our boots, but a vibrantly open and brave community that are willing to risk their lives and their reputations to fight for democracy and freedom.
The systematic discrimination and marginalization that has been firmly entrenched in our society for 135 years continues, over and over again. While successive governments have focused on building dams, highways, ports, airports and mega port cities, they have missed the wood for the trees. In all of this development the most important factor of all, has been glaringly and purposely omitted – human development. How can we move forward as a nation if our thinking is still stuck in the Victorian era? How can we be a developed nation if our people are unable to think broadly and inclusively? Development cannot be measured by the wealth of the nation, but only in the depth of the people and their ability to embrace diversity, accept difference and divest from racism, homophobia, sexism and misogyny.
This has to be foremost on the agenda of all politics, regardless of personal gain or personal biases. Safeguarding our national assets, our flora and fauna, investing in our youth, protecting our children and our women and creating opportunities for all our citizens, equally. Eliminating poverty, revamping our school curriculum to teach broader human substance – the list may seem endless, but a start is needed, and needed badly. And all need to be addressed in a systematic non-partisan way.
It is no surprise that the world economic index of 2018 has indicated that the most developed countries in the world are countries such as Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, USA and Canada, to name a few. These countries also all accept Marriage equality and have nondiscriminatory policies safeguarding their LGBTI citizens. They also have implicit policies of eco conservation and protection, gender parity, child protection etc., all toward safeguarding its citizens and promoting equality and freedom.
Butterflies for Democracy symbolises the anticipation of social change, the hope of freedom and dignity, a deep respect for life and diversity. It is time Sri Lanka – it is time to set the butterflies free.
“It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.”
- Harvey Milk