LGBTI people in general may face stigma and discrimination in housing, employment, and health care, in both the public and private sectors.
“Their words are more piercing than needles,” one transgender man said of staff at public hospitals and clinics who asked unnecessary personal questions.
But no laws ensure that their rights are protected, and police have used several criminal offenses and regulations to target LGBTI people, particularly transgender women and MSM involved in sex work.
These include a law against “cheat[ing] by personation,” and the vaguely worded Vagrants’ Ordinance that prohibits soliciting or committing acts of “gross indecency,” or being “incorrigible rogues” procuring “illicit or unnatural intercourse.” Sections 365 and 365A of the Sri Lankan Penal Code prohibit “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” and “gross indecency,” commonly understood in Sri Lanka to criminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults, including in private spaces.
They included individuals from Sri Lanka’s various ethnic groups: 46 were ethnic Sinhalese, 11 were ethnic Tamil, and 4 others were Muslim, Burgher, Sinhalese/Tamil, and Sinhalese/Indian.
The Sri Lankan government should protect the rights of transgender people and others who face similar discrimination.Police need sensitivity training and clear guidance on their duty to respect the rights of all people regardless of their gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and they should be held accountable when they fail to uphold these rights.Doctors, nurses, other medical practitioners, and support staff in the health system need better training, guidelines, and accountability systems to uphold the right to the highest attainable standard of health for LGBTI people in Sri Lanka.This report, based on interviews that Human Rights Watch conducted in four Sri Lankan cities between October 2015 and January 2016 with 61 LGBTI people, focuses primarily on abuses experienced by transgender people—including arbitrary detention, mistreatment, and discrimination accessing health care, employment, and housing.The report also includes examples of discrimination and abuse experienced by individuals based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, many of which are Transgender people and others who don’t conform to social expectations about gender face discrimination and abuse in Sri Lanka, including arbitrary detention, mistreatment, and discrimination accessing employment, housing, and health care.
Transgender people in Sri Lanka are rarely able to obtain a national identity card and other official documents that reflect their preferred name and gender, exposing them to constant and humiliating scrutiny about their gender identity—including from police at checkpoints, staff at public hospitals, employers, airport staff, and bank tellers.