The Convention on the Rights of the Child, recommends decriminalisation and non-discrimination

EQUAL GROUND welcomes the recommendations made to the Government of Sri Lanka by the Committee reviewing State obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), after its review at the CRC’s 77th Session last year. Based on the thematic report submitted by EQUAL GROUND at the 77th Session of the CRC in 2017, the Committee addressing the issues on discrimination recommended that the Government of Sri Lanka adopt proactive and comprehensive strategies and well-targeted actions to eliminate discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) children. Furthermore, they recommended Sri Lanka combat discrimination against LGBTI children by decriminalising same-sex conduct, prohibiting harassment of transgender children by law enforcement personnel, and bringing the perpetrators of violence – including sexual abuse of LGBTI children – to justice.

The recommendations also call for the inclusion of mandatory teaching practices of non-discrimination and equality within the school curriculum and to train teachers accordingly.

Addressing issues of sexual exploitation and abuse, the committee notes their concern on the lack of legal recognition of male rape and the underreporting of sexual abuse of boys due to the criminalisation and stigmatisation of homosexuality and the shame associated with the “emasculation” that sexual abuse can cause for boys. The Committee recommends measures to be taken to criminalise statutory rape of boys by revising article 363 of the Penal Code of Sri Lanka. They further urge the Government of Sri Lanka to take the necessary actions to raise awareness regarding the matter, encourage reporting of violations by de-stigmatising and ensuring that accessible, confidential and child-friendly channels are made available for this purpose.

We would like to highlight the following CRC Committee recommendations pertaining to the LGBTI community.

Section C. General Principles
Non-Discrimination

16. The Committee urges the State party to take awareness-raising measures targeted at adults and children to overcome the prevalent perception about children as inferior to adults, and to treat children as rights-holders. Furthermore, the Committee recommends that the State party:

b) Adopt a proactive and comprehensive strategy containing specific and well-targeted actions, including affirmative social actions to eliminate discrimination against children in marginalized or vulnerable situations, including girls, children belonging to ethnic or ethno-religious or indigenous minority groups, children subjected to caste-based discrimination, children living in rural areas, refugee and internally displaced children, children in street situations, children of migrant workers abroad, children in institutional care, children with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) children;

© Combat discrimination against LGBTI children, including by decriminalising consensual same-sex acts, prohibit harassment of transgender children by law enforcement personnel, and bring perpetrators of violence, including of sexual abuse of LGBTI children, to justice;

(f) Include segments on non-discrimination and equality into the mandatory school curriculum for children of all ages, adapt teaching materials and regularly train teachers accordingly.

Section E. Violence against children
Sexual exploitation and abuse

23. The Committee, despite noting the efforts to combat sexual exploitation and abuse of children, is gravely concerned about:

(b) The lack of legal recognition of male rape and under-reporting of sexual abuse of boys because of stigmatisation, criminalisation of homosexuality, and feeling ashamed of so-called “emasculation”.

24. The Committee urges the State party to develop an effective and comprehensive policy for preventing the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, including through child pornography, and for promoting the recovery and social reintegration of child victims, taking into consideration the root causes that place children at risk. It further urges the State party to:
(b) Take prompt measures to revise article 363 of the Penal Code to criminalize statutory rape of boys, and take large-scale awareness raising measures to encourage the reporting of rape of boys, to eliminate stigma associated with it, and to ensure accessible, confidential, child-friendly and effective reporting channels for such violations;

Please find the complete concluding observations at the OHCHR website.