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Asia and the Pacific
Western Asia

Sri Lanka - May 2023

Sri Lanka takes steps toward decriminalizing homosexuality

The Supreme Court ruled on 9 May that a bill seeking to decriminalize homosexuality is not unconstitutional, clearing the pathway for parliament to discuss and vote on reforming the law. The decision marks a significant milestone for LGBTQIA+ rights in the country, with campaigners hopeful that it will provide an opportunity for long-awaited reform. The bill, introduced in April, aims to make the sexual conduct between two consenting adults of the same sex a non-punishable offence.

Sources: Reuters, International Commission of Jurists, News First

Primary categories and factors
Rights +1 Rights  (+1)
Political Equality
Gender Equality

Free speech stifled under misused ICCPR act

Human rights groups have criticized the arrest of a Sri Lankan stand-up comedian under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act as an attempt to suppress free speech. Natasha Edirisooriya was taken into custody on 28 May for allegedly insulting Buddhism with a controversial remark during a performance. Among other provisions, the ICCPR Act criminalizes the advocacy of “national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.” Rights experts have in recent years called for amendments to the ICCPR Act, citing its misuse in targeting and silencing members of ethnic and religious minorities.

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) further argues that arrests made under the ICCPR Act without comprehensively considering whether the speech amounts to incitement of discrimination and violence violates the fundamental right to freedom of speech.

Sources: Daily FT, Centre for Policy Alternatives, Economy next, The Morning

Primary categories and factors
Rights -1 Rights  (-1)
Civil Liberties
Freedom of Expression
Political Equality
Social Group Equality

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