The Sri Lankan Report on Public Representations on Constitutional Reform: An Opening for Constitutional Protections for LGBT People?

This note contains a summary of the parts of the 2016 Sri Lankan Report on Public Representations on Constitutional Reform that recommend the recognition and implementation of the rights of LGBT people.

In December 2015, the Cabinet of Ministers of Sri Lanka appointed the Public Representations Committee (PRC) on Constitutional Reform to undertake a public consultation as part of the process of changing the country’s Constitution. In March 2016, the Sri Lanka Parliament became the country’s ‘Constitutional Assembly’ for the purpose of deliberating and drafting a new Constitution, incorporating the views of citizens of Sri Lanka.

On 10 May 2016, the PRC presented a report to the Constitutional Assembly, comprising public representations and its own recommendations in light of these representations. On 31 May, the Committee presented its final report to the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

This note outlines key passages of the report relevant to the rights of LGBT people, including on: directive principles of state policy (Chapter 11 of PRC report); fundamental rights (Chapter 12); affirmative action and reconciliation (Chapter 20); and, Commission on Anti-Discrimination (Chapter 21).

Significantly, Chapter 12, Fundamental Rights, contains a section on the ‘Rights of People with Diverse Sexual and Gender Identities’. The Committee states that, “The rights of the LGBTIQ community to equality, dignity and non-discrimination should be provided for in the new Constitution. Along with race, religion, caste, sex – sexual and gender orientations should be included in the clauses on equality and non-discrimination. The specific inclusion of the terms ‘sexual and gender orientation’ will help minimise any ambiguities in relation to equal treatment and non-discrimination of this community.”

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