EQUALGROUND would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very peaceful and happy holiday season. At the same time, we would like to thank you all for your support and your interest in the work we do to uphold freedom, justice and equality for the LGBTIQ community in Sri Lanka. Without the support of our donors, allies, well-wishers and community members, we would not be able to carry out our work successfully and impactfully. For this we are grateful!
2018 was a year filled with many success stories. One of the highlights of a very successful and the largest Pride celebration held to date in Sri Lanka, was the Abhimani Queer Film Festival. With support from and in collaboration with the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and Maldives, we launched the rebranded Abhimani European Film Festival for Colombo PRIDE 2018. Held over a period of 4 days, the festival featured films not only from all over Europe, but also from Tonga, Taiwan, Australia and India. Record breaking attendance at these screenings encouraged us and we are grateful to the EU Delegation for giving us this unique opportunity.
At the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in the UK in April, The Commonwealth Equality Network chaired by our Executive Director, successfully negotiated a very rocky path to gain more visibility, ensure raised voices and putting LGBTIQ issues squarely on the agenda at all discussions and forums at the Commonwealth Summit. Our lobbying with the Government of the UK culminated in the now very famous speech the PM made at the opening of the People’s Forum where she said; “Across the world, discriminatory laws made many years ago continue to affect the lives of many people, criminalising same-sex relations and failing to protect women and girls. I am all too aware that these laws were often put in place by my own country. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now. As the UK’s Prime Minister, I deeply regret both the fact that such laws were introduced, and the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today.” 2018 saw decriminalisation take place in Trinidad & Tobago and in India.
Toward the end of October 2018, we saw the country spiral into chaos and uncertainty as a constitutional coup dominated our everyday lives for almost 2 months. Disparaging homophobic remarks by the President against the Prime Minister he ousted illegally galvanized the LGBTIQ community to step out on the street in protest, not only with regard to the President’s ill-advised speech but also to demand democracy and good governance be restored in our island nation. This was a historical moment in the short history of the LGBTIQ movement. The Butterflies for Democracy – a group of LGBTIQ organisations and individual activists – took to the streets of Colombo on several occasions joining pro-democracy protests and holding their own protest as well. EQUALGROUND was proud and happy to play a part in organising and scheduling these protests. Thanks, should go to all our community members who not only showed up at the protest in numbers but also took time to create banners, placards and rainbow accoutrements to give our protest a truly ‘gay’ flare! Perhaps a PRIDE march is now a distinct possibility!
The Butterflies for Democracy will stand in solidarity along with allies, family and friends of the LGBTIQA community to protest the blatant disregard for democracy currently prevailing in the country. We will come together on 7th December 2018 at Lipton Circle from 4pm till 6pm to demand that sanity, democracy and decency prevail and that the rights of the LGBTIQA community be recognized.
For over 135 years, the LGBTIQA community has been marginalised and discriminated against due to archaic British Laws that were introduced in 1883, which our Governments have clung on to for over 70 years of independence in order to vilify and marginalise our community. Meanwhile, the UK and 35 other Commonwealth Countries have moved to remove these laws. As recently as weeks ago, our neighbour India decriminalised consensual same sex relationships, freeing over 200 million LGBTIQA persons from under the yoke of British Colonial laws. We ask, why not Sri Lanka?
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 LGBTIQA is some sort of sickness or perversion – neither of which is true and neither of which can be proved scientifically or medically.
We are gathering at Lipton Circle to remind the President and politicians of this country that we represent a large voter base in this country. We also remind the very same persons that the Constitution of this country protects our rights as equal citizens and that we must be treated as such. We demand that democracy prevails and insist that democracy is nothing without equality, respect and dignity for all citizens of this country. We stand in solidarity with the many groups who have been speaking out for the same in this moment in time, and warmly invite them to join us.
#butterfliesfordemocracy #LGBTIQ #LKA #democracy
Launch of the Abhimani European Film Festival for Colombo PRIDE 2018
COLOMBO, 28 June 2018–The Abhimani European Film Festival for Colombo PRIDE, organised by LGBTIQ+ advocacy organisation EQUALGROUND, launched on 28 June 2018. The Festival is supported by the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Sri Lanka and the Maldives and a number of European Missions based in Colombo and New Delhi. The festival was opened by Chief Guest Nimmi Harasgama.
The festival, which runs from 29 June – 1 July at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute auditorium, will showcase 17 critically-acclaimed, LGBTIQ+ themed films from Europe and Asia.
Speaking at the launch of the festival, Chargé d’affaires of EU Delegation, Paul Godfrey said, “LGBTIQ rights remain largely unrecognised in Sri Lanka and of course legal discrimination remains encoded in Sri Lankan law. This government has made a number of significant and important advances in human rights, but sadly ending discrimination against LGBTIQ people has not been one of them. The Abhimani European Film Festival is a celebration of our common humanity. The EU hopes that the festival will help showcase that lesbian and gay people around the world live normal lives, having the same successes, emotions and challenges that we all share”.
Executive Director of EQUALGROUND, Rosanna Flamer-Caldera said, “For 135 years the LGBTIQ community has struggled under the yoke of colonial laws. These discriminatory laws have prevented the many men, women, and trans persons, all Sri Lankan citizens, from being productive and contributing members of society. This has to change. By highlighting our issues through Colombo PRIDE annually, we aim to bring attention to the many violations that take place based on just who one loves. This film festival highlights the peaks and valleys of Queer life in different countries–some good, some bad. However, the underlying theme is that freedom and dignity belong to all persons regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Our issues must be given the space it deserves to bring attention to those who ignore or are ignorant that LGBTIQ rights are human rights”.
The Abhimani European Film Festival will feature films from Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, the UK, and Switzerland, as well as from India, Tonga, Taiwan, and Australia. This year’s festival brings together the European Film Festival, which promotes cultural exchanges between Europe and Sri Lanka, and the Abhimani Queer Film Festival, which celebrates and fosters an appreciation of LGBTIQ+ film.
For scheduling and information please check Abhimani
Political, Trade and Communications Section
Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives
Tel: + 94 11 2674413-4
It is with great pleasure and pride that we announce the merging of the Annual European Film Festival with the Abhimani Queer Film Festival, one of the oldest Queer Film Festivals in South Asia.
COLOMBOPRIDE 2018 together with the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and Maldives will collaborate to launch a unique and exciting Film Festival this year – The Abhimani European Film Festival for Colombo PRIDE 2018 – featuring LGBTIQ films from across Europe and other regions of the world. The European Film Festival promotes cultural exchanges between Europe and Sri Lanka and aims to promote understanding between the people of Sri Lanka and Europe. The Abhimani Queer Film Festival celebrates Queer Cinema fostering an appreciation of LGBTIQ films from around the globe while promoting the support and acceptance of Queer Culture in Sri Lanka and abroad.
The Festival promises a great line up of short and full-length films primarily from Europe, in addition to Tonga, Australia and India. It promises to be a unique cinematic experience for persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities and the first of its kind in Sri Lanka!
Dates -29th June 2018 – 1st of July 2018
Time -3.00pm – 10pm
Venue – Lakshman Kadirigamar Auditorium
Address – 24 Horton Pl, Colombo 07
Colombo PRIDE 2018 is proud to present this year’s line up of events.
Wondering what happened to the Abhimani Queer Film Festival ? Stay tuned to this site or our Facebook Page for breaking news and exciting announcements!
Or give us a call at +94114334277 or +94114334278 for more details.