SRI LANKAN LGBTI – PROTECTION VISA
Same-sex sexual acts for both men and women are a criminal offence under Section 365 and 365 (a) of the Penal Code. Those who are prosecuted under these sections face a term of imprisonment which may extend to 10 years and also may face a fine.
The US State Department’s Human Rights report of 2013 stated that the police sometimes detained, harassed, extorted money from and assaulted members of the LGBTI community in Sri Lanka. Subsequent USSD human rights reports including the most recent, covering events in 2019, have reported the same type and level of treatment.
There are no laws which specifically criminalise transgender or intersex people in Sri Lanka. However, section 399 of the Penal Code, which bans ‘cheating by impersonation’, is used against trans persons on the basis that their gender expression does not match the gender stated on their ID and as such the state sees them as pretending to be a different gender.
The police arrest people under the Vagrancy Ordinance, which gives the authorities the power to detain people who they consider are loitering in public. The Vagrancy Ordinance is used against LGB persons, but
Transgender persons are more likely to be affected by this owing to their increased visibility.
Anti-LGB sentiment is deeply ingrained in Sri Lankan culture with most Sri Lankans holding conservative views about sexual orientation and gender identity. There is no legislation which protects LGB persons from
discrimination or hate crimes.
LGB persons in Sri Lanka face stigma, discrimination, harassment, emotional and verbal abuse and forced heterosexual marriage. Most LGB persons do not live openly as LGB persons due to social stigma.
Some families pressured LGB persons to seek treatment to ‘cure’ their sexual orientation, considering their children’s behaviour as an early indication of them being gay.
LGBTI persons in Sri Lanka frequently face discrimination in accessing employment, housing and health services. In order to prevent discrimination and hate crimes some members of the LGBTI community hide their identity.
There are no services such as restaurants, bars, shops or public spaces for LGBTI Sri Lankans to socialise.
LGBTI SRI LANKANS “WELL-FOUNDED FEAR OF PERSECUTION”
If you have a well-founded fear of persecution due to your gender identity or sexual orientation in Sri Lanka, you may be eligible for a Protection visa (subclass 866).
The first requirement states that you must fear persecution for at least one of five reasons specified in the Act:
- Membership of a particular social group (PSG)
- Political Opinion
LGBTI persons in Sri Lanka form a particular social group (PSG) within the meaning of the Refugee Convention because they share an innate characteristic or a common background that cannot be changed, or share a characteristic or belief that is so fundamental to their identity or conscience that they should not be forced to renounce it, and have a distinct identity which is perceived as being different by the surrounding society.
Although LGBTI persons in Sri Lanka form a PSG, establishing such membership may not be sufficient to be recognised as a refugee.
Our Immigration Lawyers can help you with your Onshore Protection Visa. Most of our LGBTI protection visa clients are international students and tourists who fear to return to their home country and would like to stay in Australia permanently. We have a proven success record in assisting nationals of Sri Lanka.
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