Colombo: As Sri Lanka’s LGBTQ+ community held a ‘pride march’ in Colombo this week to win rights for one of the country’s most marginalised sections, in the eastern city of Akkaraipattue, a pair of Indian and Sri Lankan women, who had developed a lesbian relationship, threatened to commit suicide after being arrested for having an “abnormal relationship”.
The couple had met on social media two years ago and the 24-year-old from Tamil Nadu had invited the Sri Lanka woman to India but due to the overwork in the Immigration Department with current economic crisis, she was not able to get her passport prepared.
On Monday, the Indian woman, arriving in Sri Lanka on tourist visa, had gone to Akkaraipattu, 220 km from Colombo, and had stayed overnight at her friend’s house. The father of 33-year-old local woman, who is married with one child, had objected to the relationship and complained to the local police station in Akkaraipattu.
The police had arrested the two women and upon questioning, the Sri Lankan woman had said that she wanted to go to India with her friend and had threatened that both would commit suicide if they were not allowed to leave the country.
The police had produced them before Akkaraipattu Magistrate who, in turn, had ordered that the two women be examined by a psychiatrist and a report of psychiatric evaluation be prepared on them. They had been admitted to near Kalmunai hospital under the protection of prison officials and were ordered to be produced before the court on Monday with examination reports.
According to Sri Lanka’s laws – which dates from the time of colonial British Ceylon, homosexuality is illegal and homosexual acts are punishable by a jail term of up to ten years.
Rights groups have regularly complained that misusing the archaic law, police, government workers and others severely harass, intimidate, extort money and even carried out physical and sexual assault on members of the LGBTQ community. They had been demanding the immediate change of laws.