Sri Lanka SC cited Indian landmark case as greenlights Bill to decriminalize homosexuality

Sri Lanka Supreme Court.

In the wake of LGBTQIA+ community’s  desperate attempts to seek marital rights in the Supreme Court of India, the Apex Court of Sri Lanka has rule a Bill seeking to decriminalize homosexuality while citing the reference of an Indian landmark case.

The Sri Lankan Supreme Court said during the hearing that the Bill is “not inconsistent with the Constitution,” while paving a road for the Parliamentary debates and vote on the subject.

As per the statement given by Parliamentary Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Tuesday evening “The Supreme Court is of the opinion that the Bill as a whole or as any provision thereof is not inconsistent with the Constitution.”

The decision is related to a recent case in which a ruling party legislator sought to amend Sri Lanka’s penal code and decriminalize homosexuality. The Bill, which was gazette in March, effectively states that a person’s sexual orientation is no longer a punishable offence, and that any sexual conduct between two consenting adults of the same sex, in public or private, is no longer an offence.

Three Rajapaksa supporters challenged the Bill, which brought some hope to Sri Lanka’s queer community, which has been fighting for equality for decades.

Their petition, however, was quickly countered by nearly a dozen other people including  LGBTQIA+ activists and allies, who intervened in the matter with compelling arguments in support of amending Sri Lanka’s century-old, colonial-era laws on same-sex relationships.

In its decision, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court cited the landmark case Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, in which all consensual sex among adults, including those in same-sex relationships, was decriminalized after the Court historically overturned Section 377.