We shall be the Butterflies for Democracy

The ‘First Citizen’ of our country who was elected by our vote and subsequently betrayed the public mandate, has resorted to using the term ‘Butterfly’, a derogatory term alluding to minority sexual orientations. He has done so to hurt, shame and insult his political opponents and the LGBTIQ+ community as a whole, in order to protect his waning popularity and to justify his anti-democratic acts. We stand here today in protest to the aforesaid act and in support of the continued protest by civil society to the ongoing attack on our democracy.

We weren’t hurt by the President’s Butterfly Speech. It made us stronger. A butterfly is a symbol of social change, hope, life, and diversity. But we are hurt that the politicians in the ‘current government’ led by him have betrayed the values of democracy. We are hurt because these politicians, who were elected through the public vote, have become marketable goods auctioned for offers worth millions.

Many of us supported Mr. Sirisena in 2015 to defeat the previous government which blatantly violated human rights, attacked and murdered journalists and social activists, and breached law and democracy. We condemn his repulsive act of reuniting with anti-democratic politicos of the previous government and conspiring to grab power for them, in the process, betraying the trust we placed upon him.

This is a reminder to him that he cannot use homophobia as armor to protect himself, and that he and every other public representative and political party should act to pave way for the Sri Lankan LGBTIQ+ community to live with dignity, respect, and equality of law and justice.

Furthermore, with utmost disgust, we vehemently condemn the blatantly one-sided media reportage and political interference in the media, which is apparent in the present context. Media Freedom is the foundation of democracy.

Homophobia is a concept introduced by the British, an imperialistic endowment born in the Victorian age of Morality. It has been 70 years since we gained independence. The contract adhered to by the British administrators of governance back then is continued by our own politicians. It will be a huge mistake on their part to believe that they could cling to power anti-democratically by sacrificing not just us, but the rights of all minorities, by spreading racism, religious disharmony and instigating ethnic conflicts.

We, as the ‘Butterfly’ community, vehemently condemn this ongoing conspiracy which is anti-democratic and power-hungry. We believe that human rights are protected in a democratic society. We ‘the butterflies’ will keep on fighting to protect it. The world can be changed, not by violence, but by the sound of a thousand butterfly wings rising for peace, justice and respect. Therefore, we shall be the Butterflies for Democracy. Every single insult and attack against us is an encouragement for us to continue our struggle.

Butterflies for Democracy

07th November 2018
Liberty Roundabout

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EQUAL GROUND is hiring.

Organization Profile

EQUAL GROUND Sri Lanka works for the social, political, civil and economic rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) community of Sri Lanka. Our work revolves around raising awareness and engaging in high level advocacy work that takes place domestically and internationally. We are on the lookout for bright and dynamic individuals who would like a career in advocating for LGBTIQ rights.

During our hiring process we will be focusing on the following competencies.
• Valuing Diversity and Inclusion
• Decision Making
• Problem Solving
• Teamwork
• Motivation
• Work Ethic
• Integrity
• Adaptability/Flexibility

Remuneration will depend on qualifications/experience at industry standard with EPF & ETF.

Media & Communications Officer

Job Description
We are currently recruiting individuals with experience in the field of Media and Communications. The Media and Communications officer is expected to create and distribute communication material for EQUAL GROUND such as draft press releases, website copy, social media content, newsletters, and other copy, with a focus on clear, jargon-free messaging. They are also expected to manage EQUAL GROUND social media profiles and engage with other stakeholders in sourcing content and advertisements for the EQUALITY Magazine.

Qualifications & Requirements
• A combination of education and experience in Media and Communications is required. Sound knowledge about Social Media platforms
• Understand and follow oral and written instructions
• Excellent administrative and coordination skills, with experience of working in a similar role, in a busy and fast paced environment
• Proficiency in Microsoft Office products (Word and Excel in particular)
• Storing initiative and ability to work a minimum of supervision
• Ability to multitask, working with several jobs simultaneously and to agreed deadlines.
• Interest in LGBTIQ issues
• English proficiency a must

To apply, please email your CV with two non-related references to equalground@gmail.com. Please mention the job position you will be applying to in the subject.

Graphic Designer

Job Description
We are currently recruiting individuals with experience in the field of Graphic Design for our Media and Communications Unit. The Graphic Designer is expected to create communication material for EQUAL GROUND for Social Media, Publications and so on. They are also expected to manage EQUAL GROUND social media profiles and engage with other stakeholders in sourcing content and advertisements for the EQUALITY Magazine.

Qualifications & Requirements
• A combination of education and experience in Graphic Design is required.
• communication skills are critical to the job as Graphic designers communicate ideas through text and image
• Graphic designer need to be a creative thinker
• needs to be comfortable with design software, such as Quark, InDesign, and Adobe
• should be fluent in multiple programming languages (including HTML and CSS) as well as web design content management system platforms, such as WordPress
• strong time management skills – able to multitask, juggle multiple assignments over long periods, and meet all established deadlines
• need to know how to develop legible, well-designed type. Knowledge of color theory is critical
• Sound knowledge about Social Media platforms
• Understand and follow oral and written instructions
• Excellent administrative and coordination skills, with experience of working in a similar role, in a busy and fast paced environment
• Proficiency in Microsoft Office products (Word and Excel in particular) aswell as Design products such as AI, Photoshop, Quark, InDEsign etc.
• Storing initiative and ability to work under minimum of supervision
• Ability to multitask, working with several jobs simultaneously and to agreed deadlines.
• Interest in LGBTIQ issues
• English proficiency a must – Sinhala and/or Tamil also a necessity

To apply, please email your CV with two non-related references to equalground@gmail.com. Please mention the job position you will be applying to in the subject.

Senior Project Officer

Job Description
We are seeking bright and enthusiastic individuals with excellent administrative and organisational skills to lead our Project Implementation Team. Minimum 2 years experience in project and budget management is highly desirable.
Working closely with the Executive Director, the Senior Project Officer will be responsible for:

• Full administration and coordination of projects throughout the planning, implementation and dissemination cycle.
• Planning, organising and facilitating meetings, workshops and training programs with a strong attention to detail. (all Trainings provided in this area)

Qualifications & Requirements
• Sociology/Human Rights, or Social Sciences degree level of education or equivalent experience.
• Excellent administrative and coordination skills, with experience of working in a similar role, in a busy and fast paced environment
• Experience of working with multiple stakeholders, internal and external, ability to deal with people at all levels
• Proficiency in Microsoft Office products (Word and Excel in particular)
• Familiarity with basic financial documents (e.g. invoices, order forms, timesheets) to high level of numeracy and in-depth knowledge of financial documents, budget management or accounting experience for the senior role
• Ideally some line management experience is required for the senior role
• Accuracy and attention to detail
• Storing initiative and ability to work a minimum of supervision
• Ability to multitask, working with several jobs simultaneously and to agreed deadlines.
• Interest in LGBTIQ issues
• English proficiency a must – Additional language skills in Sinhalese and or Tamil desirable.

To apply, please email your CV with two non-related references to equalground@gmail.com. Please mention the job position you will be applying to in the subject.

Legal/Advocacy Officer

Job Description
Working closely with the Executive Director the Advocacy Officer will play a key role in conceptualizing and executing Domestic and International policy advocacy strategies to implement EQUAL GROUNDs strategy goals for 2018-2020. The Officer will actively contribute to EQUAL GROUNDs global and country-level advocacy strategies, building awareness and support for LGBTIQ rights while engaging with domestic and international stakeholders.

Qualifications & Requirements
• Lead and support the development of compelling advocacy products (policy briefs, presentations, speaking notes, etc).
• Support the development of background materials to support policy advocacy (briefing notes, meeting frameworks, concept notes, etc).
• Attend high level advocacy meetings with stakeholders.
• Ability to work in a fast paced environment and delivering high-quality work under tight deadlines.
• Exceptional skills in analyzing and communicating complex information in an accessible way for a non-technical audience.
• Bachelors or Masters degree in International Development, Public Affairs, Law, Political Science, or a similar field with a minimum of 3 years’ experience.
• Background in gender studies, human rights and/or law is an asset.
• Excellent English and Sinhala or Tamil writing and presentation skills essential.

Some domestic and/or international travel may be required.

To apply, please email your CV with two non-related references to equalground@gmail.com. Please mention the job position you will be applying to in the subject.

Office Manager

Job Description
The Office Manager will be responsible for providing a wide-range of support to the Executive Director and the Project and Media & Communications Staff. This includes, but is not limited to calendar management, handling personal logistics, coordinating with stakeholders and other types of administrative support. The office manager will work independently and with a deep sense of urgency to ensure that the director’s needs are supported in a professional and confidential manner.
They will also be responsible for the upkeep of office premises and human resources management.

Qualifications & Requirements

• Ensure office-based team’s needs are met regarding supplies.
• Manage and maintain director’s schedules, requiring interaction with both internal and external and coordinate a variety of meetings and trips.
• Provide collaborative professional support using independent judgment and discretion to ensure optimal work, confidentiality and information flow.
• Manage logistics, timelines and calendars to ensure the most effective use of the director’s attention and focus.
• File and retrieve corporate documents, record, and reports.
• 2+ years of progressive responsibilities providing high level administrative support.
• Demonstrated proficiency in Google Suite applications with the ability to learn other technology as needed.
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills, along with editing and proofreading aptitude.
• Ability to manage multiple priorities, projects and display flexibility in a fast-paced and changing work environment.
• Must demonstrate a high level of responsiveness in communicating with employees of all levels and other external constituents using all forms of communication.
• Interest in LGBTIQ issues
• English and or additional language skills in Sinhalese or Tamil.

We are an EQUAL OPPORTUNITY employer.

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Find peace of mind: free counseling service for LGBTIQ persons

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Is Sri Lanka ready to dignify LGBTIQ lives?

PRESS RELEASE

EQUAL GROUND – Colombo Sri Lanka
21st May 2018

Can policy reform bring about social change in this country and how do we provide a life free of discrimination for all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, and Questioning Community (LGBTIQ) persons in Sri Lanka?

The Executive Director of EQUAL GROUND Rosanna Flamer-Caldera sat with DIG Ajith Rohana of the Sri Lanka Police, Professor Camena Guneratne from the Open University, Ms Ambika Satkunanathan of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, and Dr. Paikiasothy Sarvanamuththu of the Center for Policy Alternatives to discuss how to combat discrimination of LGBTIQ persons, as we commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT represents an annual landmark to draw the attention of decision makers, the media, the public, opinion leaders and local authorities to the alarming situation faced by LGBTIQ people and all those who do not conform to majority sexual and gender norms) on the 17th of May 2018.

The discussion revolved around the commitments made by the Government of Sri Lanka during its Universal Periodic Review (The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC) aimed at improving the human rights situation on the ground of each of the 193 United Nations (UN) Member States. Under this mechanism, the human rights situation of all UN Member States is reviewed every 5 years) in November of 2017 (The Government of Sri Lanka supported four recommendations on protecting LGBTIQ persons from discrimination and stated that they will be committing to reform the law of the country to reflect these recommendations).

During the panellist’s presentations, DIG Ajith Rohana acknowledged that there are isolated incidents of discrimination of LGBT persons, but they are working towards eliminating them by introducing sensitising programs in the police training curriculum. He strongly emphasised that no one should be discriminated because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

A highlighted point that was repeatedly discussed was the importance of social change following policy change and how the narrative should be shaped when challenging the laws that criminalise same-sex conduct. Humanising LGBTIQ issues by using real-life examples and cases of queer people can make it more relatable to those who do not understand the struggles of the LGBTIQ persons and eventually change people’s negative perceptions about the community.

Dr Sarvanamutthu strongly believes that there is power in numbers and representation. He suggests that it is time that families rally behind the movement; He urged parents and grandparents to strongly question the law and file for a class action lawsuit demanding for the decriminalisation of their children and grandchildren.
From a policy change stand point Professor Camena stated that even though the constitutional reform process is in the back burner there could be a possibility of explicit protection offered to the LGBTIQ community through expansion of the fundamental rights chapter. This reform, coupled with an introduction of post-enactment of judicial review of all legislation that is inconsistent with the constitution can nullify the criminalisation of same-sex conduct as stated in Penal Codes 365 and 365A of Sri Lanka.

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has taken a strong public position in including explicit protection for the LGBTIQ community (The HRCSL appointed an LGBTIQ subcommittee, spearheaded the gender recognition certificate for transgender persons and is working with the press council of Sri Lanka to introduce a set of ethical media reporting guidelines). In Ms Satkunanathan’s presentation, she discussed the importance of not only sensitising the general public and civil society organisations but also the staff at the HRCSL (Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka) to be empathetic and non-judgemental.

The LGBTIQ community can also use other forms of legislature such as arbitrary violence and torture to safeguard themselves from unauthorised searches and questioning. Ms Ambika also urged that community members make use of the HRCSL’s complaint mechanism to report violations. We understand that policy change does need to be followed by social change and the continuous fight for equal rights has to involve the youth and multiple stakeholders such as our family members to strengthen our position.

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