Holiday Cheers from all of us!

EQUAL GROUND 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. EQUAL GROUND 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!

Merry Christmas! A happy and joyous New Year!