What does our culture mean?

Piyadarshani de Silva gives her take on the recent attacks by Sinhala Buddhist nationalists who, apart from other slanderous accusations, maintain that Homosexuality is destroying our culture and is a Western Import.  Sinhala Text follows this article.

 

I express my sincere gratitude to EQUAL GROUND for your social work amidst of all threats and insults, with unshaken enthusiasm. Recent Facebook post posted on EQUAL GROUND Facebook page looking unshakably at those who spread misconceptions and hatred hoping to stop EQUAL GROUND’s good work, is praiseworthy. It is a valuable attempt in showing selflessness and peacefulness embedded in EQUAL GROUND’s work.

I’m writing this in order to converse about the accusations that have been made on social media sites stating that the work of EQUAL GROUND is destroying the civility and culture of our country.

It is obvious to anyone who wishes to think wisely that some groups are attempting to create unnecessary conflicts in the name of culture and civility in order to fulfill their narrow personal expectations. It is indeed unfortunate that they are trying to convert personal opinions of a few to a social standpoint. Such individuals and/or groups are unable to understand that trying to spread hateful beliefs don’t do any good to neither their mindsets nor people, regardless of what their intention is.

I strongly believe that trying to protect the culture of a country has nothing to do with destroying the lives or right to life of a section of the citizens. Especially in our culture, there is no space for such actions. Major reason for that, as I see, is that our culture is highly nurtured by Buddhism.  In Buddhism, there is no space for such hateful ideologies at all. It is neither advisable nor appropriate to let a handful of persons who haven’t understood this fact, to spread hatred against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/ transsexual, intersex and questioning persons. I am writing this as a person who firmly believes that spreading hate through social media may destroy nothing but humanity and humane ethics. There are a plenty of incidents that shows how the culture is destroyed in actuality.  If though through those incidents, it would clearly show that reason for the decaying of culture is nothing but people who chase selfish expectations throwing behind kindness and love – to actually protect our culture, we must not spread hate but establish love in the society. That would be the best way which will automatically protect culture, country, society and human rights. LGBTIQ persons only demands the opportunity to live in peace and dignity and to express loving kindness towards them. Nevertheless, we can find as many instances as we need from our history that prove Buddhists, from birth, are filled with kind, peaceful and humane qualities. Some so called Buddhists, in present, have forgotten these fundamental qualities of Sinhala Buddhists for individual-centered benefits.

Moreover, the wise would understand that a person’s sexual orientation and/ or gender identity is merely a personal thing and is not a weakness or a short coming. They just want to live their lives just like all others. Nobody is capable of changing the nature of the life they had from birth. Like every other person they also are people who like to live without bothering to anyone in the society. No person can change the way they were born – taking that very same fact as a reason, no culture motivates us to discriminate, mislabel, ridicule and fill others’ lives with tears. Although they are of many and various sexual orientations, they still are normal human beings living with us in a one country which makes tells us that they too have the same right in our culture just like everyone else. So on what ground should we separate fellow LGBTIQ persons from our culture? I find it confusing why they don’t belong to our culture. A country and a culture is not a property of few but of many and all living in the country.

P.S.

We, as Buddhists, should treat each and every one with equal love and compassion. It is my belief that even in other religions and races, equal treatment towards everyone is accepted. A lot of people in our society tend to forget about love and compassion in order to gain their personal needs by any means. That is why LGBTIQ persons are discriminated and we need organizations dedicated to protect their rights. If they were allowed to live peacefully and happily, we wouldn’t want such organizations. By writing this, I hope to support the good work you do.

-Priyadharshani Silva, 17.6.2016-

 

වරින් වර EQUAL GROUND ආයතනය වෙත එල්ල වන ගැරහුම්, තර්ජන මධ්‍යයේ EQUAL GROUND ආයතනය විසින් නොසැලෙන ධෛර්යකින් යුතුව ඉටු කරන සමාජ මෙහෙවර පිළිබඳව නැවතත් මගේ ස්තූතිය පිරිනමමි. ආසන්න දිනක දී EQUAL GROUND ආයතනය, තම ෆේස් බුක් පිටුව මත තබා තිබූ සටහන සැබැවින්ම අගය කළ යුත්තකි. එනම් එම ආයතනය මගින් කරන සමාජ මෙහෙවර අවබෝධ කර ගැනීමට නොහැකි හෝ එම කාර්යය නවතාලීමට උත්සහ දරමින් නොයෙක් දුර්මත සමාජය පුරා වපුරන පුද්ගලයන් දෙස උපේක්ෂා සහගතව බලමින්, ඔවුන් වෙත ස්තුති කර තිබීමයි. සැබැවින්ම එය, EQUAL GROUND ආයතනයේ කාර්යයන්හි පවතින පරාර්ථකාමීත්වය හා සාමකාමී හැගීම සැමටම පසක් කර ලීමට දරන ලද අගනා උත්සහයකි.

මෙම සටහන මා තැබීමට අරමුණු කර ගත්තේද  EQUAL GROUND ආයතනයේ ක්‍රියාකාරීත්වය අප රටේ සංස්කෘතිය හා සභ්‍යත්වය විනාශ වීමක් සිදුවන බවට නොයෙක් සමාජ ජාල වෙබ් අඩවි ඔස්සේ නගා ඇති චෝදනා වල පවතින සත්‍යතාවය මගේ දැනීමේ හැටියට විමසා බැලීම සඳහාය.

සංස්කෘතිය හා සභ්‍යත්වය පෙරට දමමින් සමහර සමාජ කණ්ඩායම් විසින් තම පෞද්ගලික අපේක්ෂාවන් මුදුන් පමුණුවා ගැනීමට හා ශ්‍රීලංකික සමාජයේ ජන කොටස් තුළ අනවශ්‍ය ගැටුමක් මවා පෙන්වීමට නිරර්ථක උත්සහයක් දරන බව බුද්ධිමත්ව සිතා බලන ඕනෑම අයකුට පැහැදිලි වනු ඇත. කීප දෙනෙකුගේ පෞද්ගලික මතයක් මුළු මහත් සමාජයේම මතයක් හෝ අදහසක් බවට පත් කර ගැනීමට ඔවුන් උත්සහ දරමින් සිටීම සැබැවින්ම කණගාටුදායකය. කුමන හේතුවක් මුල් කර ගනිමින් හෝ වෛරී සිතුවිලි සමාජය තුල පැතිරවීම තුලින් ඔවුන්ගේ චිත්ත සන්තානයට හෝ අනුන්ට සිදුවන යහපතක් නොමැති බව එවැනි පුද්ගලයන්හට තේරුම් ගැනීමට නොහැක.

යම් රටක සංස්කෘතිය රැක ගැනීමට වෙර දැරීම යනු ඒ රටේ ජීවත් වන තවත් එක් අහිංසක මිනිසුන් කොටසකගේ ජීවිත විනාශ කිරීම හෝ ජීවත් වීමේ අයිතිය නැති කිරීම නොවන බව මා තදින්ම විශ්වාස කරමි. විශේෂයෙන් අපේ රටේ සංස්කෘතිය තුල නම් කොහෙත්ම එවැනි කාර්යයකට අවකාශ නැති බව පැහැදිලිව සිතමි. ඊට ප්‍රධාන හේතුව නම් අප රටේ සංස්කෘතිය, බුදු දහමින් පෝෂණය වී තිබීමයි. බුදු දහම තුල කෙසේවත් එවැනි වෛරී අදහස් වලට ඉඩක් නැත්තේමය. එලෙස බුදුදහමින් පෝෂණය වූ සංස්කෘතියක, එම රටේම, එම සංස්කෘතිය තුලම ජීවත් වන තවත් එක් අහිංසක මිනිසුන් කොටසකගේ ජීවිත්වීමේ අයිතියට අභියෝග කර නොමැත. මේ පිළිබඳව හරිහැටි තේරුම් නොගත් කීප දෙනෙකු විසින් සංස්කෘතිය රැක ගැනීම යන වචනයට මුවා වී සමසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, ද්විසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී , සංක්‍රාන්ති සමාජභාවීය පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, අන්තර් ලිංගික හා ලිංගික අනන්‍යතාවය ප්‍රශ්නනභාවී පුද්ගලයන්ට එරෙහිව තම පෞද්ගලික වෛරී අදහස් සමාජය තුල වැපිරීම යෝග්‍ය නොවනු ඇත. මෙම සටහන මා තබන්නේ ද එවැනි වෛරී අදහස් සමාජ ජාල වෙබ් අඩවි හා නොයෙක් ක්‍රම ඔස්සේ ප්‍රචාරය වීම තුලින් විනාශ වන්නේ අනෙකක් නොව මිනිස්කමම(මනුෂ්‍ය ධර්මයන්ම) පමණක් වන බව තදින් විශ්වාස කරන්නෙකු ලෙසය. නියම ලෙස සංස්කෘතිය විනාශ වන අයුරු විදහා දැක්වෙන උදාහරණ අවශ්‍ය තරම් සමාජය තුළින් අසන්නට දකින්නට ලැබෙන අවස්ථා එමටය. එම උදාහරණ ඔස්සේ අධ්‍යයනය කර බැලුවහොත් ඊට හේතුව, එලෙස සංස්කෘතිය විනාශ කරන මිනිසුන් විසින් කරුණාව, මෛත්‍රිය පසෙකලා ආත්මාර්ථකාමී සිතුවිලි ඔස්සේ පමණක් දිව යෑම නිසා සිදුවන බව පැහැදිලි වනු ඇත.  සැබෑවටම සංස්කෘතිය රැක ගැනීමට අවශ්‍ය නම් අප කළ යුත්තේ වෛරය වැපිරීම නොව කරුණාව, මෛතිය සමාජය තුල මුල් බැස්සවීමයි. එවිට සංස්කෘතියත් රටත් සමාජයත් සමඟම සියලු මිනිසුන්ගේ අයිතීන් ද රැකෙනු ඇත. සමසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, ද්විසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී , සංක්‍රාන්ති සමාජභාවීය පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, අන්තර් ලිංගික හා ලිංගික අනන්‍යතාවය ප්‍රශ්නනභාවී පුද්ගලයන් ද සමාජය තුලින් ඉල්ලා සිටින්නේ ඔවුන් වෙත වෛර නොකර කරුණාව හා මෛත්‍රීය දක්වමින් ඔවුන්ට සමාජයේ ගෞරවයෙන් යුතුව නිදහසේ ජීවත්වීමට ඉඩ පස්ථාව ලබා දෙන ලෙසය. කෙසේවෙතත් සිංහල බෞද්ධයා උපතින්ම කරුණාවන්ත හා සාමකාමී, මිනිස්කම්වලින් පිරුණ ජාතිකයක් බවට උදාහරණ ඕනෑතරම් අපගේ අතීතයෙන් සොයා ගත හැක. වර්තමානයේ දී සමහර සිංහල බෞද්ධයන් සිය පෞද්ගලික වාසි ප්‍රයෝජන තකා සහජයෙන් සිංහල බෞද්ධයා තුල පිහිටන මෙම ගුණාංග අමතක කර ඇත.

තවදුරටත් පවසන්නේ නම් පුද්ගලයකුගේ ලිංගික නැඹුරුතාවය හෝ දිශානතිය, එම පුද්ගලයාගේ උප්පත්තියෙන් ඇතිවන අතිශයින් පෞද්ගලික කාරණාවක් මිස එය ඔවුන්ගේ දුර්වලතාවයක් හෝ අඩුපාඩුවක් නොවන බව ඕනෑම බුද්ධිමත් අයකුට පසක් වනු නිසකය. අනෙක් පුද්ගලයන් මෙන් ඔවුහු ද සමාජයේ කිසිවෙකුටත් කරදරයක් නොවී, සාමාන්‍ය පරිදි තමන්ගේ පාඩුවේ ජීවත් වන්නෝ වෙති. උපතින් ඔවුන් ලැබුවා වූ ජීවිතයේ ස්වභාවය කිසිවෙකුට වෙනස් කල නොහැක. එයම හේතුවක් කර ගනිමින්, එනම් එම තත්වය ඔවුන්ගේ වරදක් ලෙස හුවා දක්වමින්, තමන්ගේම සහෝදර මනුස්ස කොට්ඨාශයකගේ ජීවිත වලට අපහාස උපහාස කරමින්, එම ජීවිත කදුලින් පුරවමින්, ඔවුන් සමාජයෙන් කොන් කර නොයෙක් පීඩා විදින තත්වයකට ඇද දැමීම තුලින් රැක ගැනීමට වෙහෙසෙන සංස්කෘතිය කුමක් ද යන්න ගැටළුවකි. විවිධ ලිංගික නැඹුරුතාවයන්ගෙන් යුතු වුව ද ඔවුන් ද එකම රටක, එකම සංස්කෘතියක් තුලම ජීවත්වන  සාමාන්‍ය මිනිසුන්ය. එනම් එකම රටක, එකම සංස්කෘතියක් තුල ඉපදී හැදී වැඩී ජීවත් වෙයි නම් එම සංස්කෘතිය පිළිබඳව සියලු දෙනාටම අයිතියක් හා වගකීමක් තිබිය යුතුමය. එසේනම් අප සමාජය තුලම ජීවත් වන සමසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, ද්විසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී , සංක්‍රාන්ති සමාජභාවීය පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, අන්තර් ලිංගික හා ලිංගික අනන්‍යතාවය ප්‍රශ්නනභාවී පුද්ගලයින්ව පමණක් එතුලින් වෙනස් කර හෝ වෙන් කර දකින්නේ කෙසේද ? යන්නත් ඔවුන්ට එම සංස්කෘතිය තුළම ඉඩක් අහිමි කර ඇත්තේ කෙසේද? යන්නත් හා ඔවුන්ගේ ඇවතුම් පැවතුම් ද මෙම සංස්කෘතිය යටතට අයත් නොවන්නේ කෙසේද? යන්න මාහට විශාල ගැටළුවකි. රටක සංස්කෘතියක් යනු කිහිප දෙනෙකුගේ පෞද්ගලික බූදලයක් හෝ අයිතියක් නොව එම රට තුල ඉපදී හැදී වැඩෙන සියලුම මිනිසුන්ගේ ඇවතුම් පැවතුම් වලින් අන්තර්ගත වූ හා ඒ පිළිබඳව සැමට අයිතියක් සහ වගකීමක් ඇති දෙයක් බව මාගේ හැගීමයි.

පසු.ලි.

සියලු සත්වයන්හට සමාන කරුණාවකින් හා මෛත්‍රියකින් යුතුව සැලකීමට විශේෂයෙන් බෞද්ධයන් ලෙස අප පුරුදු පුහුණු විය යුතුමය. අනෙක් ආගම් හා ජාති වල වුවද සියලු පුද්ගලයින් කෙරෙහි කරුණාවකින් හා මෛත්‍රියකින් යුතුව ක්‍රියාකිරීමේ වැරැද්දක් නොදකිනු ඇති බව මා විශ්වාස කරමි. අප සමාජයේ වෙසෙන බොහෝ මිනිසුන් තම ආත්මාර්ථකාමී අදහස් පමණක් මුදුන් පමුණුවා ගැනීමට හා තම පෞද්ගලික වාසි තකා පමණක් ක්‍රියාකාරී වීම නිසා මෙම කරුණාව මෛත්‍රීය පිළිබඳව අමතක කර ඇත. එවැනි හේතුන් මත අප සමාජය තුලම ජීවත් වන සමසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, ද්විසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී , සංක්‍රාන්ති සමාජභාවීය පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, අන්තර් ලිංගික හා ලිංගික අනන්‍යතාවය ප්‍රශ්නනභාවී පුද්ගලයන්ට නොයෙක් ගැහැට හා අපහාස උපහාස වලට මුහුණ දීමට සිදුව ඇත. එවැනි මිනිසුන් වෙනුවෙන් සංවිධාන බිහිවන්නේ ද එබැවිනි. ඔවුන්ට ද සතුටින් නිදහසේ ජීවත් වීමට ඉඩ ලැබුනා නම් එවැනි සංවිධාන වල අවශ්‍යතාවයක් පැන නොනගිනු ඇත. නමුත් සමාජය විසින්ම තම වගකීම් පැහැර හරිමින් සිටින මොහොතක,  සමාජය විසින් ම අතහැර දැමීමට සුදානම් වී ඇති තවත් සමාජයේ ම එක් මිනිසුන් කොටසක් වෙනුවෙන් වගකීම් ඉටු කිරීමට EQUAL GROUND ආයතනය භාරගෙන තිබීම ප්‍රසංශනීය කටයුත්තකි. ඔබ ආයතනය කරන මෙම කාර්යයට මාගේ ශක්ති ප්‍රමාණයෙන් තවදුරටත් ශක්තියක් වීමේ අදහසින් මෙම සටහන මා තැබුවෙමි.

-ප්‍රියදර්ශනී සිල්වා, 2016.06.17-

SCHOOL – a place of learning or torturing?

This is a true story.  The person who wrote this wishes to be anonymous.   Her story, her own experience at a leading all girls school in Colombo is all true and very compelling.  If you have experiences like this and want to share it with others – please do email us at equalground@gmail.com or mail us on this site.  We will keep your name out if you wish – but your story really needs telling so use this space to tell it.

SCHOOL

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The foundation of who a child grows up to be is set when in school. We spend most of our waking hours of our childhood and teen years at school surrounded by our teachers and classmates. Rules in a Buddhist ladies school were far from lenient. From extremely strict dress codes to almost offensively invasive codes of conduct. Homophobia and transphobia was a given. In an environment so sexist, racist, classist and victim-blaming it’s no surprise that they’d be anti-LGBTIQ. Much like the lack of sex-ed, we had no LGBTIQ sensitizing either. Sex was an unspeakable act practiced by those most vulgar and sexually promiscuous. That was all we were told and according to them that was all we needed to know.

We were told to follow the principles of Buddhism and to be demure and decent girls. As Sinhala Buddhist women, our purpose was to be good mothers and more importantly to be worthy and disciplined wives. Monks would encourage us to breed as it was our responsibility as Sinhalese Buddhist women to keep our race the dominant race of Sri Lanka during the weekly morning preaching. The teachers would nod along with a sage “hmm”. Coming from a family of faith witnessing the disgusting hypocracy, the intolerance and the self-righteousness in the name of religion in an institution of education whose reputation of having done no wrong not only robbed me of faith in religion but also faith in justice.  Homosexuality was painted as despicable a sin as pedophilia and necrophilia. As girls we were told that pre-marital sex made us whores and that we were to cater to our husbands and nobody else, teachers went to uncomfortable lengths to suppress our sexualities. Among the students there’d be whispered discussions of lesbians followed by gasps, faux gagging and giggles. It was a juicy topic for gossip. The word “lesbian” alone was the most horrific insult a girl in our school could receive. Once spat out in front of an audience the reputation that came with it was impossible to shake. The rumour of you being a lesbian was enough for the teachers to mistreat you, for them to drop hints in the middle of the lesson and use you as a cautionary tale. For you to be bullied relentlessly by your peers or worse to be boycotted by them. Your reputation of being a lesbian whether true or not will haunt you until you graduate. It’s not something you can shake. Two girls in grade 11 were once caught texting “inappropriate things”. Their texts had consisted of nothing sexual and were innocent declarations of love but they were separated in school and their parents were instructed to keep them apart. Meanwhile they had to endure hours of snarky comments and the appalled speeches of their teachers. Our head coordinator told all three of our A/L Arts classes as a cautionary tale for any girls “who were so desperate”. For them bisexuality was a myth. Some form of sexual experimentation reserved for the most indecent.  So growing up, I never had a proper understanding of bisexuality. I assumed that I was a lesbian. From the ninth grade I knew that I wasn’t straight though I didn’t come to terms with it until three years later. Enduring all the gay and trans jokes were equal parts hurtful and mortifying. The far spread rumour of you being a lesbian is enough for your parents to be summoned to the principal’s office for a serious discussion of your future and your behaviour which could lead to a suspension if they see fit. Any “evidence” of any “vulgarity” such as letters, texts or inappropriate behaviour it would be grounds for a long suspension or an expulsion.

2015 was my last year in school. A girl in the grade below me whom I knew in passing and whom I knew to be lovely, was rumoured to be a lesbian. She and her girlfriend were then caught by a teacher and a prefect who both very firmly stated that their public display of affection was completely inappropriate and mortifying. Nobody but the four of them know what really happened that day but that didn’t stop from the speculations. Eyes would widen, there’d be snickering and heated whispers whenever those two poor girls would pass by. Bisexuality was simply an impossibility so their reputation of being “dykes” was set in stone. I found myself being overwhelmingly protective of her though we’ve only spoken about 3 times. She and I would wave and smile at each other in the corridor. I was once with my classmates when I saw her and we waved at each other. A friend of mine looked appalled at said “You know she’s a lesbian right?” I was so shocked that when I turned to see if she had she was already gone. My “So?” wasn’t surprising given my long and passionate rants about equality during our free literature periods. It never fails to amaze me how they’d all nod and agree with me with a chorus of ‘yes’s and exasperated sighs at the intolerance of the ignorant. Yet outside of the crammed and dusty lit room they are as ignorant and cruel as the very people they criticize. The homophobia and transphobia are so interwoven into the people they’ve become that no amount of passionate rants from their closeted bisexual friend or Oscar winning movies or beautiful tragic books or pleas of their LGBT child to forgive them will change their way of thinking.

The teen years are dedicated to “finding oneself”. To properly develop their tastes in the arts, to discover where their passion and purpose lies and for their proper personalities to be shaped. One’s sexual orientation and gender identity is a big part of who a person is. We are so discouraged from even thinking about anything remotely sexual let alone to find ourselves that we’re 20 by the time we can even think about our sexual orientations or gender identities. But the homophobia, transphobia and general intolerance is so inbred and has become a part of who we are as people. The internalized homophobia and transphobia later progresses to a lot of resentment, depression, anxiety and self-isolation. It was a while after I graduated from school that I felt comfortable with labeling myself a bisexual/pansexual.

My mother tells me that we can change. That we can choose to change no matter what we were taught. How can a house stand when its very foundation is caving in? Severe anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, resentment towards authority, compulsive lying, self-harm and an eating disorder are a few of the quirks I have school to thank for. The relentless bullying of the providers of education most certainly played a massive part in it. Even right now school still haunts me. Internalized homophobia and biphobia still makes me ashamed and afraid. It keeps me in the closet. It keeps me from picking a fight with my homophobic relatives. It keeps me from sharing this huge part of who I am from my mother who I know will understand, to spare her from the burden of this secret. When the foundation of who you are is toxic it’s not something you can escape. Whether slowly or quickly it poisons you, it corrodes you from the inside, kills you each passing day. The minute the torture ends and you are released from years of captivity you’d either succumb to Stockholm syndrome or like me you’d desperately claw at yourself to be rid of any trace of the effect it had on you. No number of piercings, tattoos, rebelling or declarations of liberalism will undo what you were told, what you once believed and their narrow prejudices that you’ve now inherited.

Depression, anxiety, learning disorders, eating disorders and bisexuality weren’t considered to be real. They were all alien concepts dreamed up by the West as excuses to be lazy or vulgar. It wasn’t in our culture and therefore non-existent. The problem was all those were things I had, it was who I was. Being told that being a bisexual was a sin and unnatural and that the pain I was enduring was irrelevant by teachers years older and mothers themselves added to it all. Having been told over and over to ‘get over it’ by my teachers, parents, cousins, friends and relatives made me reserved. Now they all accuse me of being cold and closed off. Talking about my problems make me ‘annoying’ and ‘selfish’. Keeping it all bottled up makes me ‘resentful’, ‘closed off’ and ‘cold’. Sometimes I wish I had taken a beating instead. That I had photographs of blue bruises and a black eye, healing scratch marks, a split lip or a lisp from a chipped tooth. Something. Proof that they’ve put me through hell. That I’m a survivor and not some girl who cried wolf. So I could point to each scar each picture and give its gory origin. Instead I have emotional baggage and hurt that is shrugged off for being petty, bitter and nothing. I’m constantly having to explain to people why I am the way I am and having to apologize for how I am. But no one ever apologized for breaking me.  I know for a fact that no one ever will. A student’s mental well being means so little to the teachers that it’s no wonder that they end up birthing generations upon generations of insensitive and narrow minded adults.

-HH-

 

 

Against Buddhism? Or are they?

It is known by most that some groups have started spreading groundless rumors about EQUAL GROUND and its work through the internet. It is appreciable that your organization has taken necessary and immediate actions to post an official statement regarding that on your Facebook page. Major problematic issue we can find here is that these groups are using Buddhist philosophy without thinking twice, in order to strengthen their argument and opinion. If we think through wisely, it is clear that such groups themselves do not possess sufficient knowledge about their own arguments. Therefore I would like to present my opinions on behalf of EQUAL GROUND, as a person who appreciates social services and endeavors done by EQUAL GROUND in order to make sure all human beings are entitled to equal rights. My expectation is, this will support the work you do, at least a little – what I essentially expect from writing this, is to explain the futility of the actions of some groups who are trying to spread misconceptions through social media against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning community using Buddhist philosophy.

It is completely unacceptable to use Buddhist ideologies preached by Buddha, who can be identified as the best human rights defender through his teachings, to violate the rights of humans. It is an insult to Buddhist teachings – they are trying to deform dharma facts in the Buddhism in order to fulfill the needs of a very few. Buddhist teachings, preached by Buddha against the backward norms existed in his era, confirm full protection and entitlement of freedom and rights of all living beings as well as human beings. We cannot expect discriminatory actions such as use of Buddhist philosophy to brand the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning community as people who has mental illnesses and to suppress the LGBTIQ community through violating their human rights, from a person who has truly learnt or followed Buddhist philosophy.

In the initial era of Buddhism, Brahman groups used to be treated high and mighty and high class people in the society and Buddha preached Wasala Sutra and explained that no person is superior or inferior by birth but their actions. Several sections out of the 33 sections of Wasala Sutra explains that if someone insults another based on his/her social status, that behavior itself is a sign of an outcast. (Quoted from Wasala Sutra) Therefore if a person insults, treats inferiorly or distresses another’s right to life based on his/her sexual orientation, it shows nothing but how low he himself is. Condemning, hurting and insulting a section of our society without thinking about their feelings, is type of an action we can expect from a person who doesn’t realize that everyone has to face death.

We can see many sections in Buddhist philosophy that emphasizes the right to live happily and free of punishment or unfair treatment for all living beings, and no one has the right to challenge that right. First dharma stanza in the Dhanda Waggaya of Dhammapadaya, states “Sabbe thasanthi dandassa, sabbe bhayanthi machchuno”. It explains, “All fear punishment, all fear death – taking that as an example, do not kill or punish”. Not only that, it was also preached “Sabbe thasanthi dandassa, sabbe san jeewithan piyan” meaning “All living beings are frightened by punishment, everyone prefers life.” Through that, Buddha taught that the wise protect others’ right to life, comparing how the wise themselves consider the importance of their life.

It can clearly be seen here, that the unwise, unable to understand the Buddha’s teachings, tend to violate one’s right to equal and noble life in the society. Also Buddha explained, through another stanza in the Dhammwagga, that hating others’ happiness, while one enjoys a good life, may cause to lose divine or humane happiness.

“Sukha kamani bhuthani – yo dandena vihinsathi

Aththano sukha mesano – pechcha so na labhatho sukhan”

“if one suppresses others, while he himself enjoys greater happiness, he loses divine and humane happiness nor will he attain nibbana/ nirvana.”

Another very important section in the Buddhism is ten fetters. Ten fetters are defilements that keep us bound to sansara and prevent us from finishing the journey of samsara – conceit is one of the fetters. Conceit makes us consider ourselves superior than others or others inferior than us, and make us do what should not be done and prevent us from doing what should be done. Some people use some teachings from Buddhism and try to consider themselves to be religious than everyone else and label LGBTIQ persons as outcasts. Such actions show that because of conceit, people tend to do what should not be done and prevent from doing what should be done – which means, by mentally and physically suppressing LGBTIQ persons, they are performing an action that is not meant to be done and are not contributing to what should be done, in order to build a peaceful environment in which everyone can live happily and freely. That shows such people, who call themselves Buddhists, are not actually applying true Buddhism to their lives.

Karaneeya Meththa Sutra is another sutra mentioned in Buddhist teachings. Throughout this sutra, Buddha explains the ways of spreading kindness towards all living beings. At one point in the Karaneeya Meththa Sutra, Buddha mentions “Matha yatha niyan puththan, ayusa eka puththan anurakkhe, ewampi sabba bhuthesu, manasan bhawaye aparimanan, meththan cha sabba lokasmin, manasan bhawaye aparimanan” meaning, “All living beings should be loved endlessly in the same way a mother protects her precious child. A mind which spreads kindness towards the whole world, is the type of mind we should develop.” If these people at least were aware of this sutra as Sinhala Buddhists (as they call themselves), which is preached very often in Buddhism, neither would there be so much of hatred in the society towards a group of human beings like this nor will they try to influence people to gather on streets to insult and harass our own people. If it is much difficult to learn deeper concepts of Buddhism, simply learning about Karaneeya Meththa Sutra would be sufficient for someone to be kind to others.

 

Although there are a plenty of instances in Buddhism which demonstrates about the right to life and freedom for all living beings, I believe what I’ve written is sufficient to answer those who call themselves Buddhists but still harass and exclude people based on their sexual orientation while trying to find Buddhist teachings to support their unfair arguments.

P.S.

Being a Sunday school teacher, I’m writing this to futile the attempt of those who are trying to spread hateful opinions against EQUAL GROUND through social media, using Buddhist philosophy. I believe this would be useful for you to apply where needed, in order to break hateful arguments. I believe that the above mentioned facts will be of support to make EQUAL GROUND’s work successful.

Thank you.

A.Priyadharshani Silva

2016.05.27

Equal Ground ආයතනයේ ක්‍රියාකාරීත්වය පිළිබඳව විමසුමකින් තොරව පදනම් විරහිත ප්‍රකාශ අන්තර්ජාලය හරහා ප්‍රසිද්ධ කිරීමට මේ වන විට කටයුතු කරන ඇතැම් පිරිස් පිළිබඳව අප කාගේත් අවධානය යොමු වී ඇති බව දන්නා සත්‍යයකි. මේ පිලිබදව ඔබ ආයතනය විසින් නිල මට්ටමින් ප්‍රකාශයක් ඔබගේ ෆේස්බුක් පිටුව හරහා තබා තිබීම ප්‍රසංශනියයි. එසේම මෙහි තිබෙන අනෙක් ගැටළුකාරී තත්වය නම් එම පිරිස් විසින් තමන්ගේ මතයන් අන් අයට කාවැද්දීම සඳහා දෙවරක් නොසිතාම බෞද්ධ දර්ශනය ගාවාගෙන තිබීමය. බුද්ධීමත්ව විමසා බලන්නේ නම් ඔවුන් විසින් යම් යම් අවස්ථාවලදී ලබා දී තිබෙන තර්කවල පවතින නිශ්චිතතාවය එම පිරිසටවත් නොමැති බව පැහැදිලි වෙයි. එබැවින් Equal Ground ආයතනය කරන සමාජ මෙහෙවර හා සියලු මිනිසුන්හට සමාන මානව අයිතිවාසිකම් ඇති බව සහතික කිරීමට දරන ප්‍රයත්නය අගයන්නෙක් ලෙස මෙම සටහන තබමි. ඔබ කරන කාර්යයට යන්තමින් හෝ දායක වීමක් මින් සිදුවෙතැයි මා අපේක්ෂා කරමි. මෙම සටහන තැබීම තුලින් මා මූලිකවම බලාපොරොත්තු වන්නේ බුද්ධ දර්ශනය අදාල කර ගනිමින් සමාජ ජාල වෙබ් අඩවි හරහා සමාජය තුල සමසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, ද්විසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී , සංක්‍රාන්ති සමාජභාවීය පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, අන්තර් ලිංගික හා ලිංගික අනන්‍යතාවය ප්‍රශ්නනභාවී පුද්ගලයන් පිළිබඳ දුර්මත ඇති කිරීමට ඇතැම් පිරිස් දරන උත්සහයේ පවතින නිරර්ථක බව මාගේ දැනීමේ හැටියට පැහැදිලි කර දීමයි.

බුද්ධ දේශනාව සම්බන්ධයෙන් විමසා බැලීමේ දී ලෝකයේ බිහිවුන හොදම මානව හිමිකම් ආරක්ෂා කිරීමට පෙළඹුන මනුෂ්‍යයා ලෙස හැදින්විය හැකි බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේගේ දර්ශනයම තවත් එක් මනුෂ්‍ය කොටසකගේම මානව අයිතිවාසිකම් නැති කිරීම සඳහා යොදා ගැනීමට උත්සහ දැරීම බුද්ධ දේශනාවට ද කරන නිග්‍රහයකි. ඊට හේතුව බුද්ධ දේශනාව තුළ අන්තර්ගත දහම් කරුණු යම් සුළු පිරිසකගේ අවශ්‍යතාවය මත වෙනස් කර ගනිමින් උදාහරණ පෑමය. බුද්ධ කාලයේ පැවති නොදියුණු සම්මතයන්ට එරෙහිව මතවාදීව සටන් ශ්‍රේෂ්ඨයෙක් වන බුදු රදුන්ගේ දර්ශනය මනුෂ්‍යන්ගේ පමණක් නොව සියලුම සත්වයන්ගේ ජීවත්වීමේ අයිතිය හා නිදහස සම්පූර්ණයෙන්ම තහවුරු කළ දර්ශනයකි. එසේ පැවතිය දී පදනමකින් තොරව බුද්ධ දර්ශනය සම්බන්ධ කර ගනිමින් සමසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, ද්විසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී , සංක්‍රාන්ති සමාජභාවීය පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, අන්තර් ලිංගික හා ලිංගික අනන්‍යතාවය ප්‍රශ්නනභාවී පුද්ගලයින් මානසික විකෘතිතාවයන් ඇති පුද්ගලයින් ලෙස හංවඩු ගසා සමාජයෙන් නෙරපිය යුත් පුද්ගලයන් ලෙසින් තර්ක කරමින් ඔවුන්ගේ මානව අයිතිවාසිකම් උල්ලංඝනය වන අන්දමේ ප්‍රකාශ කරමින් එවැනි පුද්ගලයන් අපහසුවට හා පීඩනයට පත් කිරීම නිවැරදි බුද්ධ දර්ශනය හදාරා ඇති අයකුගෙන් සිදුවන්නක් නොවේ.

බුද්ධ දර්ශනය ලෝකයාට විවෘත කාලයේ දී එකල විසූ බ්‍රහ්මණ කණ්ඩයම් විසින් තමන් උසස් ලෙස සලකමින් හා හදුන්වා දෙමින් ගරු බුහුමන් ලැබීමට පුරුදුව සිටි අතර එහි දී බුදු රජාණන් වහන්සේ විසින් වසල සූත්‍රය දේශනා කරමින් කිසිම පුද්ගලයෙකු උපතින් උසස් හෝ පහත් නොවන බව දේශනා කරන ලදි. එනම් තමන් කරන ක්‍රියාව අනුව එය සිදුවන බව පැහැදිලි කළ සේක. කොයිතරම් උසස් හා සම්මත තලයක පුද්ගලයකු ලෙස තමන් සිතා සිටියත් එය පදනම් කරගනිමින් සෙසු පුද්ගලයින් හට ගරහයිනම් පරිභව කරයි නම් එය වසල ගතියක් ලෙස එම සුත්‍ර දේශනාව තුලින් විස්තර කරන කරුණු තිස් තුනෙන් කරුණු කීපයකින්ම පැහැදිලි වේ. (උපුටා ගැනීම වසල සුත්‍රය) එසේ නම් යම් පුද්ගලයකුගේ ලිංගිකමය නැඹුරුතාවය මත එම පුද්ගලයාගේ ජීවත්වීමේ නිදහස කෙරෙහි කිසිවකු අනිසි අයුරින් බලපෑම් කරමින් ගරහයි නම් එය තම ක්‍රියාව තුලින් වසල ගති පෙන්නුම් කරන්නෙක් බව තේරුම් යනු ඇත. තවත් එක් මනුෂ්‍ය කොට්ඨාශයකගේ සිතුම් පැතුම් පිළිබද හැගීමකින් තොරව එම පුද්ගලයන්ගේ සිත් රිදවමින් සමාජයෙන් කොන් කරමින් හා අපහාස කරමින් ක්‍රියාකාරී වීම තමන් මැරෙන බව නොදැන ජීවත්වන පුද්ගලයින්ගේ කාර්යයකි.

ඉපදුන සෑම සත්වයකුටම තමන්ගේ ජීවිත කාලය අවසන් වන තෙක් නිදහසේ සතුටින් ජීවත්වීමට හා තවකෙකුගේ දණ්ඩනයකට හෝ බලපෑමකට ලක් නොවී ජීවත් වීමට අයිතියක් ඇති අතර එය කිසිවෙකුට අභියෝගයකට ලක්කිරීමට හැකියාවක් නැති බවට බුද්ධ දර්ශනය තුල කීප අවස්ථාවකදී ම සහතික වන අකාරයේ උදාහරණ ඉදිරිපත් කර ඇත. එනම් ධම්ම පදයේ දණ්ඩ වග්ගයේ ඇති පළමු ධම්ම පද ගාථාව වන “සබ්බේ තසන්ති දණ්ඩස්ස, සබ්බේ භායන්ති මච්චුනෝ” ගාථාවෙන් ම ඒ බව සදහන් කර ඇත. “සියලු සත්වයන් දඩුවමට බියවෙත්. සියලු සත්ත්වයෝ මරණයට බියවෙත්.” එබැවින් තමන් ද එසේ දඩුවමට හා කරදරයට පත්වීමට බියවන්නාක් මෙන් තමන් උදාහරණයට ගෙන අන් අය ද මරණයට පත්කිරීමට හෝ පීඩනයට පත් නොකළ යුතු බව මෙයින් පැහැදිලි කරයි. එසේම “සබ්බේ තසන්ති දණ්ඩස්ස, සබ්බේ සං ජීවිතං පියං” එහිදී “සියළු සත්වයෝම දඩුවමින් තැති ගනිති, සියල්ලන්ම ජීවිතය ප්‍රියය” එබැවින් තමා ජීවත්වීමට ප්‍රිය වන්නාක් මෙන් උපමා කොට නුවණැත්තන් අනෙකාගේ නිදහසේ ජීවත්වීමේ අයිතිය සුරකින බව බුදුරදුන් වදාළ සේක. මෙහිදී අප සියල්ලන්ටම පැහැදිලි වන්නේ මෙම බුද්ධ වදන තේරුම් ගැනීමට අපහසු අනුවණනයන් පිරිසක් විසින්, එක සමාන අයිතියකින් යුක්තව උප්පත්තිය ලබන සෑම පුද්ගලයකුටම සමාජය තුල ගෞරවනීය ලෙස නිදහසේ ජීවත්වීමට ඇති අයිතියට විරුද්ධ වන බවකි.

බුදුරදුන් විසින් දණ්ඩ වග්ගයේ එන තවත් එක් ධම්ම පද ගාථාවක් වන පහත සදහන් ගාථාව ඇසුරින් තමන් සුවසේ ජීවත්වීමට කැමති නම් එසේ වී අනෙක් සුවසේ විදීමට කැමති සත්වයන් පෙළීම දෙව්මිනිස් සුව හෝ නිවන් සුව නොලැබීමට හේතුවක් ලෙස පැහැදිලි කළ සේක.

“සුඛ කාමානි භූතානි – යො දණ්ඩෙන විහිංසති

අත්තනෝ සුඛ මෙසානෝ – පෙච්ච සො න ලභතේ සුඛං”

“යම් පුද්ගලයෙක් තමහට සුව කැමති වූයේ, සුව කැමති සත්වයන් දඩුවමින් පෙළා නම් හෙතෙම පරලොව දෙව්මිනිස් සුව ද නිවන් සුව ද නොලබන්නේය.”

බුද්ධ දර්ශනය තුළ අන්තර්ගත තවත් එක් දහම් කරුණක් නම් දස සංයෝජනයන් ධර්මයන්ය. “සත්වයන්ට සංසාර ගමන නිමා කිරීමට නොදී ඔවුන් සසරේ බැද තබන කෙලෙස් ධර්ම සංයෝජන ධර්ම” නම් වේ. එයින් එක් සංයෝජන ධර්මයක් වන්නේ මානයයි. මානය තුලින් පුද්ගලයෙක් හෝ පිරිසක් අරමුණු කර තමන් ඔවුන්ට වඩා උසස් කර හෝ පහත් කර සලකා ඒ හේතුවෙන් කළ යුත්ත නොකර හැරීම හා නොකල යුත්ත කිරීම වැනි කටයුතු කරයි. ඒ අනුව බුද්ධ දර්ශනය හුවා දක්වමින් තමන් එම දර්ශනය අනුව ජීවත් වන බවත් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, ද්විසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී , සංක්‍රාන්ති සමාජභාවීය පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, අන්තර් ලිංගික හා ලිංගික අනන්‍යතාවය ප්‍රශ්නනභාවී පුද්ගලයින් ඊට පටහැනිව ජීවත් වන කොටසක් බවත් හුවා දක්වමින් ඔවුන් පහත් කර සලකා තමන් ආගමානුකූලව ජීවත් වන උසස් කොටසක් ලෙස හදුන්වා ගැනීමට එම පිරිස් උත්සුක වී ඇත. එතුලින් ඔවුන් තුල වැඩෙන සංයෝජන ධර්මයක් පිළිඹිබු වේ. එහිදී එම මානය නිසා ඔවුන් කළ යුත්ත නොකර, නොකල යුතු දෑ සිදු කිරීමට පෙළඹෙයි. එනම් ඔවුන් සමසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, ද්විසෙනෙහස් පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී , සංක්‍රාන්ති සමාජභාවීය පුරුෂ – ස්ත්‍රී, අන්තර් ලිංගික හා ලිංගික අනන්‍යතාවය ප්‍රශ්නනභාවී පුද්ගලයින්ව මානසිකව හා කායිකව තාඩන පීඩනයන්ට ලක් කරමින් නොකල යුත්ත කරයි. නමුත් සියලු මිනිසුන්ට සතුටින් නිදහසේ ජීවත් වීමට හැකි පරිසරයක් උදා කිරීම සදහා කල යුතු දෑ ඔවුන් නොකරයි. එයින් පැහැදිලි වන්නේ ද නිවැරදි බුද්ධ දර්ශනය අනුව තමන් බෞද්ධයන් යැයි කියා ගන්නා එම පිරිස් ක්‍රියාකාරී වී නොමැති බවයි.

බුද්ධ දේශනාව තුල අන්තර්ගත තවත් එක් සුත්‍ර දේශනාවක් වන්නේ කරණීය මෙත්ත සුත්‍රයයි. මෙම සුත්‍ර දේශනාවේ දී බුදුරදුන් විසින් සියලු සත්ත්වයන් හට මෙත් වැඩිය යුතු ආකාරය පිළිබදව එම සුත්‍රය පුරාවටම පැහැදිලි කර දෙයි. එහි එක් තැනක දී … “මාතා යථා නියං පුත්තං, අයුසා ඒක පුත්තං අනුරක්ඛේ, එවම්පි සබ්බ භූතේසු, මානසං භාවයේ අපරිමාණං, මෙත්තං ච සබ්බ ලොකස්මිං, මානසං භාවයේ අපරිමාණං”… ලෙසින් වාදාරා ඇත. එහි තේරුම “පණ වැනිව පුතෙකු සිටින යම් මවත් තම එකම පුතු රකියි ද එලෙසම සියලු සත්ත්වයන් අපරිමිත වූ මනසක් වැඩිය යුතුය. සකල ලෝකයා වෙත මෙත පතුරවන අපරිමිත වූ මනසක් වැඩිය යුතුයි.” එසේනම් සිංහල බෞද්ධයන් නිතර සජ්ජායනා කර මෙම සුත්‍ර දේශනාව පිළිබදවවත් සිංහල බෞද්ධයන් ලෙස එම පිරිස් නිවැරදිව තේරුම් ගෙන සිටීනම් තවත් එක් මනුස්ස කොටසක් සදහාම මෙතරම් වෛරී සංකල්පනාවන් සමාජය තුල නොපතුරවනු ඇත. ඔවුන්හට අපහාස කරමින් එම ජනතාව පෙලීම හා දණ්ඩනයට ලක්කිරීම සදහා වීදි බැසීමට මිනිසුන් ඒකරාශී කිරීමට උත්සහ නොකරනු ඇත. මන්ද යත් සියලු සත්ත්වයන් කෙරෙහි මෛත්‍රීය පැතිරවීම පිළිබදව හැදෑරීම සදහා වෙනත් ගැඹුරු දහම් කරුණු විමසීමට ඔවුන්ට අපහසු නම් සරලවම කරණීය මෙත්ත සුත්‍ර දේශනාව හැදෑරීම පමණක්ම ප්‍රමාණවත් වනු ඇත.

සෑම සත්වයතුගේම ජීවත්වීමේ අයිතිය හා නිදහස පිළිබදව විදහා පෑම සදහා අවශ්‍ය තරම් උදාහරණ බෞද්ධ දර්ශනය තුළ ඇතත්, යම් පුද්ගලයකුගේ ලිංගික නැඹුරුතාවය මත එම පුද්ගලයා තාඩනයට පීඩනයට ලක්විය යුතු යැයි හෝ ඔවුන් සමාජයෙන් කොන්කර අතුගා දැමිය යුතු යැයි කියමින් ද ඒ සදහා බෞද්ධ දර්ශනය ද පදනම් කරගෙන උදාහරණ සැපයීමට වෙහෙසෙන තමන් බෞද්ධයන් යැයි කියාගන්නා ඇතැම් පිරිස් සදහා පිළිතුරක් වීමට දැනට මෙම කරුනු ප්‍රමාණවත් වේ යැයි මා සිතමි.

පසු.ලි.

මෙම සටහන මා විසින් තබා ඇත්තේ යම් යම් අන්තගාමී සංවිධාන විසින් ෆේස්බුක් වැනි සමාජ ජාල ඔස්සේ බෞද්ධ දර්ශනය පදනම් කරගෙන Equal Ground ආයතනය වෙත චෝදනා එල්ල කිරීම තුලින් සාමාජය තුල වෛරී අදහස් පැතිරීමට දරන උත්සහය ව්‍යර්ථ කිරීමට, දහම් පාසල් ගුරුවරියක ලෙස සේවය කරන මා විසින් මාගේ දැනීමේ හැටියට ඔබ වෙත දායකත්වයක් ලබා දීම සදහාය. මෙම කරුණු අදාළ කර ගත හැකි අවස්ථා වලදී එම කරුණු ඉදිරිපත් කරමින් ඔවුන්ගේ තර්ක සදහා පිළිතුරු ලබා දීමට මෙය ඔබට උපකාර වේ යැයි මා සිතමි. Equal Ground ආයතනය විසින් කරන කාර්යයන් සාර්ථක කර ගැනීම සදහා මා හට හැකි මට්ටමින් දායකත්වයක් ලබා දීම අරමුණු කර ගනිමින් ඉහත කරුණු ඔබ වෙත ඉදිරිපත් කරමි.

ස්තූතියි.

ඒ. ප්‍රියදර්ශනී සිල්වා

2016.05.27 දින

JOHN KEELLS HOLDINGS PLC – THE FIRST SRI LANKAN LGBTIQ INCLUSIVE COMPANY

PRESS RELEASE

Colombo, Sri Lanka 21st January 2016

JOHN KEELLS HOLDINGS PLC – THE FIRST SRI LANKAN LGBTIQ INCLUSIVE COMPANY

EQUAL GROUND’s strategic plan since its inception in 2004 has been to educate and sensitise the general public and our own LGBTIQ community on the normalcy of sexual orientation and gender identity, using a Human Rights platform to press for changes not just with the people of Sri Lanka but also with the Government, the Judiciary, the Media and the Corporate Sector, to name a few.  Over the course of several months in 2015 & 2016, EQUAL GROUND sensitized members of staff of John Keells Holdings PLC, as well as the staff of Renuka City Hotel.  The ongoing program for Corporate Sensitising has reaped dividends.

EQUAL GROUND is proud to announce that John Keells Holdings PLC becomes the first Sri Lankan Company to accept and commit to non-discrimination in the work place for persons of different sexual orientations and gender identities.

EQUAL GROUND is committed to creating avenues in which Companies such as John Keells Holdings can successfully sensitise and educate their staff on the importance of accepting Diversity in the workplace.  As such, since October 2015, EQUAL GROUND commenced awareness sessions to sensitise staff of John Keells Holdings PLC on sexual orientation and gender identity.       The successful execution of these sensitising trainings on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning persons (LGBTIQ) lives and issues has led to change in this corporate organisation – a leader in the business sector dedicated to providing a safe and inclusive workplace for its employees.

“Keells has always been about equality and diversity in the workplace and we have always encouraged women, ethnic minorities and others to be a part of our Company.  Including Sexual Orientation and gender Identity is just a natural progression for us.  It’s the right thing to do,” said Ajit Gunerwardene, Deputy Chairman of John Keells Holdings when asked why he was so open to this Corporate Sensitizing project pioneered by EQUAL GROUND.

John Keells Holdings PLC has a long history of advancing social change: it has taken initiatives in empowering women towards the eradication of violence against women, prevention of child abuse and child labour, the prevention of HIV / AIDS through creating awareness, and embracing a diverse workforce without discriminating on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, gender including different sexual orientations and gender identities.

The trainings conducted by EQUAL GROUND explains the legal and social challenges people with different Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities face in Sri Lanka in the workplace. An estimated 10% of people worldwide are estimated to be LGBTIQ, which amounts to approximately 2.2m persons in Sri Lanka.

“We are certainly pleased and excited by John Keells Holdings PLC committment, in not only sensitising their workforce on LGBTIQ issues but also making it a Human Resources policy to encourage LGBTIQ persons to work at John Keells Holdings without fear or discrimination,” said Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, Executive Director of EQUAL GROUND speaking on this groundbreaking decision by John Keells Holdings.  She further said: “We are committed to encouraging more and more businesses to do the same as John Keells Holdings PLC.  Embracing diversity and encouraging all persons to be their best and give of their best in the workplace only enhances Sri Lanka’s economic growth and will not have the shortcomings that many persons are so fond of pointing out, all be it erroneously.”

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR DIVERSITY IN THE WORKPLACE

In 2009, Witeck, the US communications company and Harris Interactive, the market researcher, found the estimated spending power of the LGBT community to be £81bn in the UK and $712bn in the US.  By 2013 this figure in the US was over $800 Billion.

It also suggested that 78% of the LGBT community, their friends and relatives would switch brands to companies known to be LGBT-friendly.

The UN urges companies to come forward with safe, fair and accepting policies including LGBTIQ people. Reluctance to do so currently costs India US$32bn p.a. and Sri Lanka an estimate of US$128m p.a. To put this into perspective, Homophobia costs our country the 2014 equivalent of our aviation industry. Tackling homo- and transphobia is not only a social cause, but also makes Rupees and sense (Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited, (2015). Annual Report 2014. Katunayaka. Ministry of Finance and Planning, (2010). Annual Report Mihin Lanka 2008 Sri Jayawardenapura,  Sri Lankan Airlines, (2015) Annual Report 2013-2014 Colombo).

 

Nothing But Pride debuts on Youtube!

EQUAL GROUND has produced a totally homegrown composition Nothing but Pride a Music video filmed entirely on location in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Currently celebrating Colombo PRIDE 2015 the music video debuted to a packed audience on 19th July at the Goethe Institute in Colombo.

Written by EQUAL GROUND’s Executive Director Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, the song means to capture the essence of PRIDE, encouraging the LGBTIQ community top stand tall and Proud!

“I believe we need an anthem, a lively gay song to harness our Pride and feel good about ourselves. And I hope it catches on and is played around the world at pride celebrations and everywhere!” said Rosanna when asked about why she wrote the song.

EQUAL GROUND is proud of this singular achievement in producing something that the entire world can share.

Happy Pride!04jpg

 

EQUAL GROUND interviews Ryan Sallans

EQUAL GROUND interviews Ryan Sallans – a transgender man, International Speaker, Activist, Publisher and Author of the book, Second Son!

RedShirt

 

 

-When did you first realize you were transgender?

In December of 2004, my girlfriend and I were combing through the bookshelves at Calamus Bookstore in Boston, MA. I was 25 years old at the time. While in the bookstore I purposefully bypassed the gay and lesbian sections, and moved into the transgender/transsexual aisle. It was there that I found the book, Body Alchemy, by Loren Cameron. My hands shook and a smile grew inch-by-inch as I flipped through the pages and looked at the pictures and stories of people who were born assigned female, but had transitioned to male. Unfortunately, my excitement wasn’t shared by my girlfriend, who simply looked over my shoulder, scrunched her nose and asked, “You don’t want to look like them do you?”

By the end of her question, my hands stopped shaking and my smile disappeared. I knew what I wanted, the thing I had just connected with, wasn’t something she would accept. When we returned home I began to research transitioning. I did this mainly through online personal web sites and support groups hosted by Yahoo!. I spent three solid months reading everything I could before I decided to begin my transition.

 

IMG_5696-Describe how beginning your transgender transition experience affected you physically and mentally.

 When I first came out as transgender I felt terrified and alone, but also elated and relieved. Information and support around being transgender was limited at that time, and my parents and partner were less than accepting of my decision to transition, but I finally understood who I was as a person. Knowing that I couldn’t share this excitement with my family or partner, I had to keep a lot of my feelings to myself and turn inward for any shred of support. Something that helped me process how my family and partner were reacting at this time was to remind myself that I needed to give them time to understand what being transgender is and what a transition will mean, not only for me, but for them.
-Was your home environment a supportive one given your situation?

As I mentioned in the last question, when I began my transition, my family and partner also began a transition, so it was hard for my home environment to be supportive right away. My parents had to wrap their heads around what it meant to have a son instead of daughter. They also had to process how it would feel for them to use a name and pronoun that wasn’t what they had given me. My partner had to wrap her head around what it would mean for her to be in a relationship with a man. As a lesbian, she also had to ask, how will my partner’s identity affect what other people think about me? How will my identity be seen? Will my community (the LGBTQ) still accept me?

When I put myself in their shoes, I had more understanding of their own processes. I knew that it would require time. It took me 25 years to realize I was transgender, so I shouldn’t have expected my family and partner to be 100% on board right after I came out. Of course, this awareness didn’t mean that it I felt okay with the way I was being treated, it still hurt. Fortunately, I was in therapy at this time, so talking with my therapist, helped shore me up when I was feeling defeated.

-Were there any instances of bullying that stand out in your memory?

When I was a kid, we always referred to it as teasing instead of bullying. I, unfortunately, was a prime target for jokes, rumors and harassment in my school and also at home. At school, kids teased me because of my appearance, and even kids from other schools would make comments about my body, clothing, or hairstyles. I remember, even when playing a basketball game, guys from the other team would shout things out about how I looked. One day, while sitting in math class, two of the popular guys sitting next to me said, “I wonder who could win in a fight between Kim (my old name) and Mike Tyson. . . Probably, Kim.”

While  walking down a street, or through the hallways of my school, I can’t even count the number of times little kids would yell at me, “Are you a boy or a girl?” or “Do you wear boy’s underwear?” I was already very insecure in my body, so the way kids would tease me just made me feel even more alien in my skin.

Unfortunately, the teasing didn’t end at school. I was also lectured at home about my appearance. My parents were not happy with how I dressed; they hated how I did my hair, and were frustrated by how I didn’t have any interests in make-up. When I was in high school, lectures from my parents about how I should look escalated. My mom even went so far as to take me into town to have a consult and demonstration with a Mary Kay make-up saleswoman. The day of my college graduation, I stepped out into our family room in a button-up shirt, linen pants that were slightly baggy and sport sandals, and right when my dad saw me he said, “That’s what you are wearing? You look like a slob.” No, congratulations or statement of being proud of me for not only graduating with two majors, but also with honors.

The insecurities I developed growing up, still follow me to this day.

IMG_5801-What are some of the legal and social challenges (like career-related discrimination for example) you have faced on coming out? 

Employment, restroom and locker room access, visiting a medical or mental health facility and meeting new people all can cause anxiety for transgender people. I have experienced discrimination in the past when applying and interviewing for jobs, where discovery of my transgender identity, ultimately led to me not receiving the position. One place went so far as to change the job description so that I would no longer qualify as a candidate. I considered taking legal action, but decided in the end it would not be worth my time or money, for two reasons: I live in a state where gender identity isn’t seen as a protected class, and it wasn’t an environment I would want to place myself in as an employee, even if I would have been officially offered the position.

Another legal challenge that I had to undergo was related to health insurance coverage and medical procedures. In August of 2006, I underwent a total hysterectomy. This procedure had been pre-certified by my health insurance company, after it was completed, a peer-review board stated it was medically necessary, but four months after this review, the insurance company sent me and the hospital a letter stating that “the gender didn’t match the surgery” (my gender on my insurance card had been changed to male when I began working for an organization where I didn’t want everyone to know I was transgender). The insurance company asked for their money to be refunded, and then I was sent the bill. In response, I contacted a friend of mine that was a lawyer with a non-profit organization, and he helped me file an appeal. It took us two-months to compile everything. The day that I went to mail my appeal, it looked like I was sending off a full manuscript instead of just documents. Fortunately, my appeal was approved, but since that experience, I am terrified of going to the doctor and using my health insurance.

-What has changed since the time you first came out that might alter how other trans  people experience life?

 I am still in awe regarding how much has changed over the past ten years for the transgender community. The way the online world has exploded, the way politics is evolving, and how much mass media is focusing on transgender identities today is astounding. This isn’t to say we don’t have a lot of work to do, but ten years ago, at least where I lived, trans identities remained silent and untouched. To give you a few examples of how things have changed, currently there are nine states, plus the District of Columbia that ban discrimination by insurance companies around excluding transition-related care. In 2014, it was ruled that Medicare will cover transition-related care for transgender people, no longer seeing the medical needs as experimental, cosmetic or unnecessary procedures. More and more colleges and universities are moving toward changing their policies and procedures to be trans-inclusive, including women-only institutions. And the United States Justice Department has announced that transgender identities fall underneath the category of sex discrimination, giving transgender employees more workplace protections than what they have had in the past. Again, with these advancements and changes, it doesn’t mean that everything is wonderful and covered for transgender people, but barriers that seemed impossible to break down ten years ago, are and will, continue to change.

-What are some misconceptions of being a FTM transgender person would you like to clear?

 I would say the biggest misconceptions people have about transgender people overall is that we are freaks, confused, sexual predators, or have a mental illness. The other misconception that just makes me want to scream is that transgender people are a threat to other people in public restrooms or locker rooms. These viewpoints are ridiculous and extremely offensive. To everyone out there, trans folk use restrooms for the same reasons everyone else does, there is nothing else going on. So please, let us move past this idea that a trans person is just going to start flashing their genitalia or look under stalls to see other people, it is offensive, and is causing further unneeded distress and anxiety for the community.

I would say the biggest misconceptions people have about transgender people overall is that we are freaks, confused, sexual predators, or have a mental illness. The other misconception that just makes me want to scream is that transgender people are a threat to other people in public restrooms or locker rooms. These viewpoints are ridiculous and extremely offensive. To everyone out there, trans folk use restrooms for the same reasons everyone else does, there is nothing else going on. So please, let us move past this idea that a trans person is just going to start flashing their genitalia or look under stalls to see other people, it is offensive, and is causing further unneeded distress and anxiety for the community.

-Where do you think the world is right now when it comes to the acceptance of transgender people when it comes to jobs, the way they are portrayed in the media, etc. and what do you think can be done to make people understand it better?

Every place in the world is different regarding acceptance and inclusion of transgender people within their culture. In October of 2014, I had the great fortune of being sponsored by the United States Embassy to visit Mexico City and speak at the International Lesbian and Gay World Association (ILGA) Conference. I met transgender people from around the world there, and I was both inspired and empathetic from the stories I heard around how they were treated in their countries.

In looking at the United States, I feel the increase in: visibility through mass media, professional associations recognizing the need for competent and accepting care, providers interested in transgender medicine, federal and state policies that are inclusive of transgender people, all put us in a place where we are not the best, but we are definitely not the worst. For example, we are seeing more parents coming out and supporting their transgender or gender creative children. And we are seeing a push for schools and curriculums to move away from gender binaries, i.e., segregating classrooms and activities into boys and girls, and also looking at ways to provide a safe-learning environment for transgender students.

Yet, while we have made great strides, the trauma and distress that we see statistically regarding the transgender community is disheartening. In 2010, The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) along with the National LGBTQ Task Force conducted a national online survey of transgender people across the nation. There were almost 6,500 respondents, and what they found regarding employment, mental and physical health, family acceptance, treatment by law enforcement, violence, discrimination in public spaces, and the risk of suicide was disheartening.

While more and more people are becoming aware of transgender issues, people in power who are completely ignorant on the topic are pushing back and trying to further control and marginalize transgender people, either through ridiculous bills that may be voted into law, or policies within institutions that are used to isolate transgender people from others.

To improve our country and the awareness around transgender identities, we need to continue to share our stories, push back and fight policies that will only cause further harm, and allow time for people who are not wanting to harm us, but just don’t quite get it, to find that place where they finally understand.

-What made you want to become a motivational speaker?

 I attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where I received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Anthropology, Master of Arts in English, and a Master of Arts in Educational Psychology. So, even prior to my transition, I was a professional speaker and sexuality educator. After I began my transition, I found that when I shared my own transition story, the audience was more empathetic and open to learning about transgender identities. I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a motivational speaker, but I do find that some people find motivation from the presentations that I deliver. I’ve been a public speaker since 1999, and feel very fortunate for the places that I have traveled, the people I have met, and the stories that have been shared with me along the way.

bookpose6 -You are also now an author. What was your motivation in choosing to write your critically acclaimed book “Second Son”?

 Having a Masters’ degree in creative writing, I decided to write a book, to show not only a transgender narrative, but to share a story from someone in the Midwest. Oftentimes folks in the Midwest are ignored, or seen as not being as important because we don’t live in the big cities. I wanted people to know that trans people exist everywhere, and the issues that impact folks on the coast, also impact us in the middle. Another reason I wanted to publish a book is that transgender men are often invisible when it comes to coverage, so I hoped that my story would help increase interests in the lives of transgender men, as well as be a supportive text for people with a trans identity.

 

-You are a renowned motivational speaker and author. What would your advice be to other FTM transgender persons out there who feel there is no hope when it comes to relationships, intimacy, careers, bullying and other discrimination and having confidence?

 My advice for anyone, whether they are a trans man or of a different identity is first, to not give up hope. This can be difficult, I know because I still struggle, but sometimes we push and push to try to find acceptance from people that cannot give it, when what we should really be doing is finding a home and place within ourselves; in order to understand more of where we should be looking and what type of people we should be letting into our lives. Transitioning can also be very overwhelming. I remember how I felt when I first began my transition process and when I speak with people who are newly beginning their own journey I can see the bewilderment in their eyes, which can quickly move to discouragement.

I try to reassure people that their transition will happen, it just will not happen all at once. I then try to help people think about both short- and long-term goals. I ask, what is something you feel you could focus on right now that could help you feel like you are moving forward? Then, what would be your goal by this time next year? How do you see yourself in 20 years? After hearing people’s answers I restate the importance of giving themselves time, and to appreciate the process that they are in at the moment, for example, if someone is just starting on hormones, I suggest that they revel in it, journal about it, take photos for their own personal library and hold onto the joy they may feel. As you move further into a transition, life moves further away from your trans identity, which can sometimes be frightening because you’ve spent so much time focusing on the transition that you may lose other parts of your identity. The second book I am writing is focusing on this place, and the journey that I am now creating that goes beyond being trans.

-Last but not least, what in your opinion makes a “man”?

This is a difficult question to answer because gender is a part of our identity, but it is not all of our identity. For someone to be described as a “man” or a “woman” we are not describing the whole person. So, when I hear what makes a “man,” I’m left with a question mark because it should really be, what makes an authentic person? I think this is a question that we can all explore. For me, what makes an authentic person is someone who is open to exploring the complexity around who they are, how they feel, and what is right for them in terms of expression. Then taking that understanding and finding pride in the fact that you don’t have to conform to a stereotype, a box or a role, we are all unique and there can never be one definition that summarizes who we are as individuals.

 

Sri Lankan Cricket Fan uses derogatory language on Aussie player

PRESS RELEASE

COLOMBO 11th March 2015 

On the 8th of March 2015, Australia played against Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground emerging victorious in reaching the quarter finals. A crowd amassing thousands cheered Maxwell on as he propelled Australia to victory over Sri Lanka completely oblivious to the anti-gay slur upheld by the fan written in Sinhala. The photo went viral on Sri Lankan social media showing a man in a Sri Lankan cricket jersey brandishing a sign that labelled Maxwell a “fag” in Sinhala during the Cricket World Cup match.  The word Ponnaya, which was penned in Sinhala on the poster is a derogative word to describe an effeminate gay man but is used widely as a term similar to ‘faggot’ to denigrate homosexual men in general.

Sri Lankan social media swiftly moved to condemn the actions of the man responsible for labelling Glenn Maxwell a ‘Ponnaya” thus using the derogatory slur.   Despite Australians not understanding the Sinhala word on the placard, Sri Lankans both living in Sri Lanka and abroad were appalled by the audacity of the man whose placard insulted an Australian cricket player on their own home soil and disrespected the LGBTIQ community both nationally and internationally.

Sri Lankan politician Malsha Kumaranatunge who happens to be the daughter of the previous Minister of Sports, Jeevan Kumaranatunge, was quoted on social media saying:

 “Cricket is a game you play with respect. Respect for your own team but most importantly, respect for your opponents. Holding placards like this, insulting players of the host country, in their own soil, is not only disrespectful to the people of Australia but reflects us Sri Lankans in a poor light. Using homophobic terms to insult opposing players or anyone is un-acceptable. Cricket is for everyone. Whether you are Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu, rich or poor, gay or straight. Respect.”

The son of former Cricket Captain Arjuna Ranatunga, Dhyan Ranatunga too mentioned he did not understand the people who seemed to find the actions of the man who used the homophobic slur to be funny and a “joke” and considered the actions of the perpetrator of the homophobic slur at the match to be contrary to the concept of cricket as a “gentleman’s game”. 

He went on to further condemn the man by saying; “This is just pathetic and disgraceful by whoever this guy is, and also to anyone who sees this as a joke. Cricket is supposed to be the “gentlemen’s game”, and this certainly isn’t an act of any ‘gentleman’. He’s disrespecting the game of cricket, and Sri Lanka too! He’s not a fan of cricket, not a fan of Sri Lanka. It’s such a shame he’s wearing a Sri Lanka jersey! We are better than that!”

Aritha Wickramasinghe who is an ardent Sri Lanka cricket fan and a renowned lawyer at an international law firm too vehemently opposed the usage of the homophobic slur telling trusted LGBTIQ news source Pink News:  “Homophobia in sport, especially in Cricket, is something that all cricket loving nations must get together to tackle. Using gay slurs such as this at a World Cup is insensitive and insulting to the millions of young gay men and women that endure discrimination and violence because of who they chose to love. As a Sri Lankan Cricket lover, I am ashamed of fans like this. This is not funny and it certainly isn’t cricket.”

EQUAL GROUND, Sri Lanka’s only truly mixed organization advocating the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning persons in Sri Lanka, is appalled by the action of the man responsible for the homophobic insult during the cricket match that has since made news in International media and portrayed Sri Lanka in a negative light. As an organization striving for equal rights and respect for LGBTIQ persons, an already marginalized and stigmatized minority in Sri Lanka, EQUAL GROUND views the blatant disrespect shown by the man in question as furthering the notion that it is acceptable to discriminate against the already vulnerable LGBTIQ community.

 “The fight for equal rights remains a major obstacle so long as respect for all sexual orientations and gender identities are denied both in sport and out of it. Sport banter is not a justification for downplaying players of any team by using derogatory and discriminatory remarks that are racist, sexist, ableist, transphobic or homophobic in nature,” said Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of EQUAL GROUND. 

EQUAL GROUND profusely apologizes to Glenn Maxwell on behalf of all Sri Lankan Cricket fans – whether they agree or not with the apology – for being denied the respect every cricket player rightfully deserves from an opposing team and its fans.

EQUAL GROUND urges the Sri Lankan government and the respective cricket boards of Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand and the ICC to take up this matter seriously and enable special measures and protocols to ensure no disrespectful, discriminatory and defamatory remarks are ever tolerated within the arena of cricket in any country.

 

 

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POSITIVE OUTCOME AT THE UN FOR LGBTIQ COMMUNITY IN SRI LANKA!

Colombo, 15th October 2014:  There is finally good news from the UN for the LGBTIQ community of Sri Lanka.  In an unprecedented statement the Government of Sri Lanka informed the Experts Committee reviewing Sri Lanka for ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) that “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) is protected under Article 12 of the Sri Lankan Constitution.”

Earlier, the The Experts Committee requested the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) to respond to several questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity issues. Para five of the list of issues (LOI) submitted by the expert committee asked:

Please indicate the measures taken to protect persons from stigmatization and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and indicate whether they are protected by the constitutional provisions on non-discrimination”. 

While not responding to the question on protection the GOSL stated:  “Article 12 of the Constitution recognizes non-discrimination based on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any one of such grounds as a Fundamental Right.  This measure protects persons from stigmatization and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identities.” 

 The full report can be viewed on the OHCHR website – CCPR/C/LKA/5, para. 339.

Following up on this statement, during the review held on the 7th and 8th of October 2014 at the OHCHR in Geneva, the Government was asked to explain the following:

  • What has the government of Sri Lanka done to amend article 12 of Sri Lankan Constitution to include SOGI?
  • Why has the Government not decriminalised Homosexuality?
  • What is the Government intending to do to protect LGBTI persons in Sri Lanka?

In reply, Ms. Bimba Jayasinghe Thilakeratne, Additional Solicitor General with the Attorney General’s Department in Sri Lanka made the following observations:

“Article 12.1 ensures equality for sexual orientation and gender identity.”

 “Article 12.2 Laws discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity are unconstitutional.”

 “Sections 365 and 365A of the Penal code do not target any particular group but is there to protect public morality.”

 While Sri Lanka did not directly answer the questions posed, the answers given by the Additional Solicitor General can be viewed as a positive response.

In this regard, the Executive Director of EQUAL GROUND had this to say:  “We are extremely pleased with this outcome and applaud the government for clarifying the interpretations of the Constitution and the law regarding SOGI in Sri Lanka.  While this may not rain sunshine for the LGBTIQ community just yet, there is now at least, a sense of hope things will start changing in Sri Lanka and that the LGBTIQ community will be able to hold their heads a bit higher as the days go by.  We also urge the Government to open dialog with the LGBTIQ community, particularly those advocating for better treatment and equality for LGBTIQ individuals in this country and put in place, nondiscriminatory laws and statutes that will protect our community.”

EQUAL GROUND submitted 2 shadow reports for this review collaborating with the Center for International Human Rights or Northwestern Law School, the global Initiative for Sexuality and Human Rights of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights for the first and Kaleidoscope Australia for the second.

Contact:

EQUAL GROUND, Sri Lanka
Tel: +94-11-2806184/ +94-11- 5679766
Fax: +94-11-2805704

Email: equalground@gmail.com
Web:  http://www.equal-ground.org
Web Blog: https://equalground.wordpress.com

Twitter:  _equalground_

Facebook: www.facebook.com/EQUALGROUND

Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/user/equalground123
“Equality for all Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities: Human Rights for everyone”

 

SETTING THE RECORD ‘STRAIGHT’

Much has been said, written and blogged about the LGBTIQ community here in Sri Lanka with even more being said about EQUAL GROUND, its ED, staff and members.  This is our attempt to set the records straight and answer those out there that insist on spreading spurious fabrications about us and the community we work for.

One of the most serious, misleading and false accusations is that all homosexuals are pedophiles.  EQUAL GROUND therefore has been charged with spreading homosexuality and thus in these insane mindsets, responsible for spreading pedophilia in this country.

All homosexuals are pedophiles

A number of researchers have looked at this question to determine if homosexuals are more likely to be pedophiles than heterosexuals, and the data indicates that that’s not the case.

For example, in a 1989 a study led by Kurt Freund of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Canada, scientists showed pictures of children to adult gay and straight males, and measured sexual arousal. Homosexual men reacted no more strongly to pictures of male children than heterosexual men reacted to pictures of female children.

A 1994 study, led by Carole Jenny of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, surveyed 269 cases of children who were sexually molested by adults. In 82% of cases, the alleged offenders were heterosexual partners of a close relative of the child, the researchers reported in the journal of Pediatrics. In only two out of 269 cases, the offender was identified as being gay or lesbian.

“The empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children,” wrote Gregory M. Herek, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, on his website. Herek, who was not involved in the 1989 or 1994 studies, compiled a review of research on the topic.

Homosexuality is an illness

 

Psychology viewed homosexuality in terms of pathological models as a mental illness through the early years and most of the 20th century. Specifically labeled as androphilia; the attraction to masculinity, gynephilia; the attraction to femininity, ambiphilia; the attraction towards both masculinity and femininity. Although these terms are not defined as gender-biased concepts, it was most commonly used in attempt to diagnose homosexuality and bisexuality. These classifications were reasons for much research but no empirical or scientific basis was found to classify homosexuality as a disease or abnormality. This led to professionals in medicine, mental health, and behavioral and social sciences to oppose the then existing assumptions about homosexuality.

Since the 1970s, the consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions globally,  is that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexual orientation, while there remain those who maintain that it is a disorder. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. The American Psychological Association Council of Representatives followed in 1975. Thereafter other major mental health organizations followed and it was finally declassified by the World Health Organization in 1990. Consequently, while some still believe homosexuality is a mental disorder, the current research and clinical literature demonstrate that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality, reflecting the official positions of the World Health Organisation, American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association.

 

Homosexuality is unnatural

 

This is such a common sentiment here and in fact, is still listed in the Sri Lanka Penal Code which refers to Carnal intercourse against the order of nature.  Time’s Health and Family magazine debunks this theory in an article that asserts; it’s (homosexuality) a common trait, found in up to 10% of the population. It appears to run in families, suggesting that it is hereditary, at least in part

 

The article says that while homosexuality may not be written in our DNA sequence it is written in how our genes are expressed.  In other words, in certain modifications to how and when DNA is activated.  These changes can have environmental roots, so are not normally permanent enough to be passed from parent to child.  But occasionally, they are.”

Sergey Gavrilets, a NIMBioS researcher and an author on the paper that outlines the new theory of homosexuality, published in The Quarterly Review of Biology says: “It’s not genetics. It’s not DNA. It’s not pieces of DNA. It’s epigenetics.”  Specifically, the new theory advocates that homosexuality is due to epigenetic marks, or “epi-marks” which relates to the sensitivity to hormones in a mother’s womb.  Gavrilets and his colleagues believe that gene expression may regulate how a fetus responds to testosterone, the all-important male sex hormone. They further argue that epi-marks may help to buffer a female fetus from high levels of testosterone by suppressing receptors that respond to testosterone, for example, (thus ensuring normal fetal development even in the presence of a lot of testosterone) or to buffer a male fetus from low levels of testosterone by up-regulating receptors that bind to the hormone (ensuring normal fetal development even in the absence of high levels of testosterone). Normally, these epi-marks are erased after they are activated, but if those marks are passed down to the next generation, the same epi-marks that protected a man in utero may cause oversensitivity to testosterone among his daughters, and the epi-marks that protected a woman in utero may lead to under-sensitivity to testosterone among her sons.(Read the full article at: http://healthland.time.com/2012/12/13/new-insight-into-the-epigenetic-roots-of-homosexuality/)

Homosexuality has been scientifically documented in more than 450 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and other animals across the planet BIOLOGICAL EXUBERANCE, Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by Bruce Bagemihl.  In fact some say that there are over 1500 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and other animals display homosexual tendencies. 

Rather scientific, yes!  Hard to understand, maybe!  But scientific data does not lie and, as more and more data becomes available, it will prove undoubtedly what LGBTIQ activists and others have been saying for decades (and that which Lady Gaga so beautifully sang ) – “Born this way.”

Sad that we have to emphasize this but we must due to the many falsehoods being spread about EQUAL GROUND and its work. EQUAL GROUND is a professional nonprofit organization seeking equal rights for the LGBTIQ community of Sri Lanka. We are not pedophiles, we are not carnal perverts, we are not a match making service, we do not provide advice on sexual acts and we are not a house of prostitution!

 

LOGO FOR PRIDE!

Your design maybe the next proud logo for Colombo PRIDE 2013. 

Calling all designers young and old, gay or straight – design the next logo for Colombo Pride 2013 and stand a chance to win fabulous prizes!  In addition, the winning design will be featured in all Colombo PRIDE 2013 publicity, including media adverts and articles, on tickets, posters, banners, and will be featured prominently on our website, blog and social media sites.  The winner will be interviewed for Rainbow News and Youtube (only if the winner is agreeable!).

Annual PRIDE celebrations – an important event in the Sri Lankan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning community’s (LGBTIQ) calendar – have been held for the past 8 years in Colombo and its suburbs. Colombo PRIDE affords the LGBTIQ community of Sri Lanka the time and space to stand proud and tall and join with each other to truly celebrate diversity!  Colombo PRIDE is not just a celebration for the LGBTIQ community only.  Colombo PRIDE urges and encourages everyone and anyone to participate in the festivities and celebrate Diversity in a very special way!  Diversity is the nucleus of this country and we should all get together and join hands in making every single citizen of this country – whether gay or straight, male or female, Sinhala, Tamil, Burgher or Muslim – feel proud to be SRI LANKAN!

Competition details:

  • Your logo must be a dynamic representation of the Diversity of the Sri Lankan LGBTIQ community and LGBT Pride.
  • You cannot (obviously) duplicate any other organization’s logo, or any other Pride celebration logo!  We want something original, dynamic, colorful and hip!
  • You must be Sri Lankan and live in Sri Lanka to be eligible.
  • You can send in as many as 3 entries each.
  • Your entries must be submitted in 300dpi (and above) TIFF and JPEG images by email to: colombopride2013@gmail.com.
  • Each entry must have your name, email address and phone number and must be sent individually.
  • The decision of the judges consisting of members of the Colombo PRIDE 2013 subcommittee and the EQUAL GROUND Board of Trustees is final.
  • All logos once submitted will be the property of Colombo PRIDE and EQUAL GROUND (the convener of Colombo Pride).

A CASH PRIZE OF RS.10,000 PLUS 5 FREE TICKETS TO NEXT YEAR’S (2013) ROCKING RAINBOW PRIDE PARTY WILL BE AWARDED TO THE WINNING ENTRY. 

Entries must reach us by 5pm (Sri Lanka standard time) on December 31st 2012.

Happy designing!

To view details of the organisation and its work – please go to http://www.equal-ground.org

இளைஞர்கள், வயதானவர்கள், ஓர் பாலின சேர்க்கையாளர்கள், எதிர் பாலின சேர்க்கையாளர்கள் – அனைத்து வடிவமைப்பாளர்களுக்குமான அழைப்பு!

கொழும்பு பிரய்ட் 2013 இற்கான அடுத்த பெருமை மிக்கஇலச்சினையை வடிவமைத்து, அற்புதமான பரிசுப் பொருட்களை வெல்லும் வாய்ப்பை பெற்றுக் கொள்ளுங்கள்.மேலும் வெற்றி பெரும் இலச்சினை ஊடக விளம்பரங்கள், கட்டுரைகள், நுழைவுச்சீட்டுக்கள், சுவரொட்டிகள்,விளம்பரப் பலகைகள் உட்பட, கொழும்பு பிரய்ட் 2013 இன் அனைத்து விதமான விளம்பரப்படுத்தல்களிலும்இடம்பெறும். முக்கியமாக எமது இனணயத்தளம், வலைப்பதிவு, மற்றும் சமூக ஊடகத் தளங்களிலும்காட்சிப்படுத்தப்படும். வெற்றியாளருடனான நேர்காணல் வானவில் செய்திகள் மற்றும் யூ டியூப் போன்றவற்றில் வெளியிடப்படும் (வெற்றியாளரின் சம்மதத்துடன் மட்டும்!).

வருடாந்த பிரய்ட் கொண்டாட்டம் – இலங்கையின் ஓர் பாலின சேர்க்கையாளர்கள் (Lesbian, Gay), இரு பாலினசேர்க்கையாளர்கள் (Bisexual), மாற்றுப் பால்நிலையினர் (Transgender), இருபால் அங்க உடலினர்(Intersex) மற்றும் தமது பாலியல் நாட்டம் பற்றி தெளிவற்ற சமூகத்தினரின் (Questioning Community) – LGBTIQநாட்காட்டியில் ஒரு முக்கியமான நாள். இது கடந்த 08 வருடங்களாக கொழும்பு மற்றும் புறநகர்களில் இடம்பெற்று வருகின்றது. கொழும்பு பிரய்ட், இலங்கையின் LGBTIQ சமூகத்தினர் பெருமையுடன் ஒருவருடன் ஒருவர் இணைந்து, உண்மையாக பல்வகைமையை கொண்டாடுவதற்கான நேரத்தையும், இடத்தையும் வழங்கிவசதி அளிக்கின்றது! கொழும்பு பிரய்ட் LGBTIQ சமூகத்தினருக்கு மட்டுமான கொண்டாட்டம் அல்ல. கொழும்புபிரய்ட் அனைவரையும் மட்டும் அன்றி, எவரையும் எமது கொண்டாட்டங்களில் பங்குபற்றி பல்வகைமையைவிசேடமான முறையில் கொண்டாடுமாறு வலியுறுத்துகிறது, ஊக்குவிக்கிறது! இந்நாட்டின் கருப்பொருள் பல்வகைமை. ஆகவே, நாம் எல்லோரும் ஒன்றிணைந்து, கைகோர்த்து இந்நாட்டின் ஒவ்வொரு பிரஜையையும் உருவாக்க வேண்டும் – ஓர்பாலின சேர்க்கையாளர்களாக இருக்கலாம் அல்லது எதிர்ப்பாலின சேர்க்கையாளர்களாக இருக்கலாம். ஆணாக இருக்கலாம் அல்லது பெண்ணாக இருக்கலாம். சிங்கள, தமிழ், பர்கர் அல்லது முஸ்லீமாக இருக்கலாம் – நாம் எவராக இருப்பினும் இலங்கை நாட்டவராக இருப்பதை எண்ணிப் பெருமைப்படுவோம்!

போட்டி விபரங்கள்:

• உங்கள் இலச்சினை, இலங்கையின் LGBTIQ சமூகத்தினது பல்வகைமையையும், LGBT இன் பெருமையையும், சக்தி வாய்ந்த முறையில் பிரதிநிதித்துவப்படுத்த வேண்டும்.

• நீங்கள், இன்னும் ஒரு நிறுவனத்தின் அல்லது வேறு பிரய்ட் கொண்டாட்ட இலச்சினையை போன்ற ஒன்றை வடிவமைக்கக் கூடாது! ஆக்கபூர்வமான, முனைப்பான, கவர்ச்சியான மூலப்பிரதியே எமக்கு வேண்டும்!

• நீங்கள் இலங்கை நாட்டவராகவும், இலங்கையில் வசிப்பவராகவும் இருக்க வேண்டும்.

• நீங்கள் ஆகக்கூடியது 03 ஆக்கங்களை அனுப்ப முடியும்.

• உங்கள் ஆக்கங்கள் 300dpi, TIFF மற்றும் JPEG படமாக, மின்னஞ்சல் ஊடாகcolombopride2013@gmail.com என்ற முகவரிக்கு அனுப்பி வைக்கப்பட வேண்டும்.

• ஒவ்வொரு ஆக்கங்களும் உங்கள் பெயர், மின்னஞ்சல் முகவரி மற்றும் தொலைபேசி இலக்கம் என்பவற்றை கொண்டிருக்க வேண்டிய அதே நேரம், அவை தனித்தனியாக அனுப்பப்பட வேண்டும்.

• கொழும்பு பிரய்ட் 2013 இன் உபசெயற்குழு மற்றும் ஈகுவல் கிரவுன்ட் (EQUAL GROUND)அங்கத்தவர்களை உள்ளடக்கிய நடுவர்களின் தீர்மானமே இறுதியானது.

• சமர்ப்பிக்கப்பட்ட அனைத்து இலச்சினைகளும் கொழும்பு பிரய்ட் மற்றும் ஈகுவல் கிரவுன்டின் (EQUAL GROUND – கொழும்பு பிரய்டின் அவைகூட்டுநர்) உடைமை ஆகும்.

வெற்றியாளருக்கு 10,000/= ரூபாய் பணப்பரிசுடன் அடுத்த வருட (2013) களியாட்டங்கள் மிக்க ரெயின்போ பிரய்ட் (Rainbow Pride) கொண்டாட்டத்திற்கான 05 நுழைவுச்சீட்டுக்களும் பரிசாக வழங்கப்படும்.

உங்கள் ஆக்கங்கள் 2012 டிசம்பர் 31 ஆம் திகதி, மாலை 5 மணிக்கு (இலங்கை நேரம்) முன்னதாக எமக்கு அனுப்பி வைக்கப்பட வேண்டும்.

சந்தோஷமாக வடிவமைக்க எமது வாழ்த்துக்கள்!

எமது நிறுவனம் மற்றும் அதன் பணிகள் பற்றி மேலும் விபரங்களை அறிந்துகொள்ள ABOUT US என்ற பொத்தானை அழுத்துங்கள்.

2013 වසරේ කොළඔ අභිමානී සැමරුමේ නිළ ලාංඡනය සඳහා නිර්මාණ ඉදිරිපත් කර අගනා තත්‍යාග දිනාගන්න. මේ සඳහා කිසිඳු වයස් භේදයකින් හා ලිංගික නැමියා භේදයකින් තොරව සැමටම නිර්මාණ ඉදිරිපත් කළ හැකි අතර ජයග‍්‍රාහී නිර්මාණය 2013 වසරේ කොළඔ අභිමානී සැමරුමි නිල ලාංඡනය ලෙස යොදාගනු ලැබේ. එලෙසම ජයග‍්‍රාහී නිර්මාණය සියළුම මාධධ්‍යයන් වල( ටිකට්පත් වල, පෝස්ටර් හා අනෙකුත් අභිමානී සැමරුම් ප‍්පපචාරය වන අතර ජයග‍්‍රාහී පුද්ගලයාගේ කැමැත්ත මත යූ ටියුබ් ජාලය වෙත ඔහුගේ හෝ ඇයගේ සම්මුඛ සාකච්චාවක්ද කෙරෙනු ඇත.

වසර 8ක කාලයක් පුරා අභිමානී සැමරුම ශ‍ලංකා සමසෙනෙහස් ප‍පජාව හා සංක‍්‍රාන්තික ලිංගික ප‍පජාවගේ දින දර්ශනයේ විශේෂ තැනක් ගනු ලබන්නේ එහි වචනයේ පරිසමාප්ත අර්ථයෙන්ම ඔවුන්ට විවිධත්වය සැමරීම සඳහා වන එකම තෝතැන්න වීම එහි විශේෂත්වය නිසාමය. කොළඔ අභිමානය තම විවිධත්වය සැමරීමට සැමට දිරිදෙන අතර ඕනෑම කෙනෙකුට මෙ සඳහා එක්විය හැක.එලෙසම කොළඔ අභිමානී සැමරුම සමසෙනෙහස් ප‍පජාව සඳහාම වෙන් වූ සැමරුමක් පමණක් නොවේ, ලංකාවේ වෙසෙන සෑම පුද්ගලයෙකුගේම තම විවිධත්වය කුමක් වුවත් ශ‍ලාංකිකයකු වීමෙ ප්‍රෞඩත්වය සැමරීම සඳහාමය.

තරඟ විස්තර

නිල ලාංඡනය කොළඔ අභිමානී හා විවිධත්වය නියෝජනය විය යුතුයි.

වෙනත් සංවිධානයක හා අන්තර්ජාලයෙන් උපුටා ගන්නා ලද ලාංඡනයන් ඉදිරිපත් කළ නොහැක.

ඔබ ශ‍ලාංකිකයකු විය යුතු අතර ශ‍ ලංකාවේ පදිංච් කරුවෙකු විය යුතුය.

එලෙසම මේ සඳහා එක් පුද්ගලයෙකුට නිර්මාණ 3 බැඟින් එවිය හැක.

ඔබේ නිර්මාණ 300 dpi TIFFත්‍ හෝ JPG ආකාරයට සකසා colombopride2013@gmail.com විද්‍යුත් තැපෑලට යොමුකළ යුතුය.

සෑම නිර්මාණයක් සමඟම ඔබේ නම, විද්‍යුත් තැපෑල් ලිපිනය සහ ජංගම දුරකථන අංකය සඳහන් කළයුතුය.

අප ආයතනයේ භාරකාර මණ්ඩලයේ තීරණය තරඟාවලියේ අවසාන තීරණය වේ.

නිර්මාණ එවා අවසන් වූ පසු එම නිර්මාණ අප ආයතනය සතු දේපලක් වේ.

ජයග‍්‍රාහී නිර්මාණය සඳහා මුදලින් රු.10,000 තත්‍යාගයක් හා ලබන වසරේ පැවැත්වෙන වර්ණවත දේදුනු සාදයේ ටිකට්පත් 5 ක්ද පිරිනමනු ලැබේ.

සියලුම නිර්මාණ දෙසැම්බර් මස 31 වෙනි දින සවස 5.00 ට පෙර එවිය යුතුය.