Recent writing/écrits récents

Towards Sri Lankan Queer Liberation: A Global-Sri Lankan Reflection For Pride 2017

In this festive period of Pride celebrations across the world, a peculiar incident takes place in Sri Lanka, with increased mobilisation of the Buddhist monks, who are apparently opposed to the proposed new Constitution. The multitude of disagreements on the Constitution, and especially on what goes in the Constitution within the Joint Government itself have repeatedly come to light. Debates that are necessary and somewhat intriguing are taking place, which is just about the only positive sign.

On 4th July 2017, academic and diplomat [read more here].

Published on 11 July 2017, Colombo Telegraph.

Thoughts for Pride 2017

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In June 2016, the United Nations appointed a Special Expert on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) issues. This was a crucial step in the supranational sector, where the emphasis on SOGIESC has long lapsed. The appointment was subjected to two votes, firstly at the UN HRC in Geneva and secondly at the UN Headquarters in New York. It was vehemently opposed by a number of governments (especially African and Middle Eastern states). Yet, the majority of member states voted in favour of appointing a SOGIESC Special Expert.

Indeed, every Sri Lankan citizen can be proud of the decision of the government of Sri Lanka to vote in favour of the Special Expert. In this season of Pride celebrations, it is necessary to reiterate the fact that the Government of Sri Lanka voted in favour of the SOGIESC Special Expert. If anything, Sri Lanka’s SOGIESC vote at the UN is an indication that SOGIESC-related…[Read more here].

Published, Sunday 2 July 2017, The Sunday Leader [print & online]

Mullivaikkal: A Call For Reason

It has been eight years since Sri Lanka underwent one of the most decisive turns, if not the most decisive and epoch-changing turn, in her post-1948 history. The conclusion of the final military offensive against the LTTE, Colombo’s resounding victory, and the LTTE’s defeat, resulted in a substantive transformation of the national and regional security configurations. This was an outcome previously deemed impossible in practitioner and academic circles. To so-called ‘Sri Lanka researchers’ – a mixture of anthropologists…[Read more here].

Published in The Colombo Telegraph, 19 May 2017.

Standing Up For The Gay Politician: Mangala Samaraweera On Right Track?

[Colombo Telegraph, 8 May 2017]

At a parliamentary debate on 5 May 2017, a less than pleasant verbal exchange occurred between Mangala Samaraweera MP, the Minister of External Affairs, and the opposition benches, especially with Wimal Weerawansa MP of the Jathika Nidhahas Peramuna. The former was accusing the latter of corrupt practices during the Rajapaksa administration, providing evidence of specific cases. One such case included financial malpractice (and diplomatic misdemeanour) in relation to a foreign trip on state business. The External Affairs Minister was clearly seeking to make a political statement, and so was Weerawansa, who found an opportunity to slam Samaraweera. At one point, a statement came from…

Read more here.

Playing with fire?

[Colombo Telegraph, 24 April 2017]: Political commentary on the on the convoluted trends in opposition political mobilization in Sri Lanka. Read in full here.

CNA, terfs and whitefeminism

his time around, the proverbial cat is definitely out of the bag. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (CNA) has made a public statement that she does not recognize trans women as women. The statement comes coated with a feel of pseudo-acceptance, claiming something along the lines of ‘let trans women and trans people be’. CNA’s foremost argument in making this claim is that those grown up and socialised as ‘men’ have male privileges and that their lived experience differ…[continue reading here].

published, 11 March 2017.

Needed: International support for culturally savvy LGBTQI leaders

Since June 2016, two attempts have been made to annul the U.N. Human Rights Council’s appointment of an Independent Expert on the protection of peoples against violence and discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE).

The appointee, Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, teaches law at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. Despite the expert being from a Southeast Asian country, many governments in the Global South opposed his appointment.

Read more here.

Published, 1 March 2017

LGBTQI: Myopic All-Out petition pushes Lanka against the wall

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Read online version here.

Published: Sunday 26 February 2017, The Sunday Times

Beyond Neoliberal LGBTQI politics: on duplicities, challenges and hope for change

Read here.

Sri Lanka’s LGBTIQ Equality Stalemate & Victorian Hangovers: Reflections On A Decolonizing Approach To Sexual And Gender Justice

The week of the 16th of January 2017 carried bad news for Sri Lanka’s LGBTIQ community. At the weekly meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, a number of ministers had vehemently opposed the abrogation of Articles 365 and 365A of the Penal Code. This also implies vehement opposition to the inclusion of a constitutional clause on equality to all Sri Lankan citizens, irrespective of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. In other words, this cabinet decision, reached by a cabinet of ministers that describes itself as advocates of ‘yahapalanaya’ (good governance) does not recognize the fundamental rights of Sri Lankan citizens who are not heterosexual in terms of their sexual orientation. Although regulations have been slightly altered with regards to the tedious process of ‘correcting’ the civil service documentation of Transgender citizens, this cabinet decision also amounts to a rejection of Transgender (and indeed other gender-plural) Sri Lankan citizens, as it clearly hints at a reluctance at the highest levels of government to ensure the fundamental rights of citizens irrespective of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. In other words, the government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and its President, whose election was described as the dawn of an era of good governance, does not recognize non-heterosexual and non-cis-hetero-normative Sri Lankans. Despite the tremendous contributions they make to society home and abroad, the highest levels of government have concluded that LGBTIQ people, due to their sexual orientation and gender identity, as a second, if not third class, pariah category. This writer, for instance, a Sri Lankan citizen and a multilingual Trans woman with a Franco-British education plus an International Politics PhD, is, to go by the cabinet decision… [Read more at Colombo Telegraph).

2017: Watershed Year For LGBTQI+ Rights In Sri Lanka?

A new year often dawns with new resolves and wishes, and this especially appears to be the case with the LGBTQI+ community in Sri Lanka. As dialogue on a sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI)-related equality clause in the proposed new constitution continues, an absolute priority is that of raising awareness on SOGI-related fundamental rights among policymakers, senior government officials, the judiciary and law enforcement officials. This is due to an extremely worrying lack of awareness and understanding that pervades government circles. The attitudes of many policymakers and officials towards SOGI issues are shaped by prejudices and colonially imposed Victorian [im]moralities, which, contrary to what many of us assume, are also deeply ingrained in what could be described as the ‘Sinhala-Buddhist establishment’. In a land nurtured by Buddhist philosophy along the logic of Sabbé satta bavantu sukhi thattha, ensuring the protection of the basic human rights of all citizens fall well within Sri Lankan, if not Sri Lankan-Buddhist traditions of tolerance and acceptance. Indeed, this reading categorically…read more here.

Published: 1 January 2017.

LGBTQI Rights In Sri Lanka: Long Way Ahead

The 2016 world conference (#ILGA2016BKK) of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA) was held in Bangkok last week. ILGA carries out a great deal of work regionally (Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Oceania, Pan Africa and Asia), and the world conference brings together all the regional bodies. The 2016 conference included some 700 delegates from 98 countries. In sum, it happened to be a microcosm of global LGBTQI advocacy and activism. ILGA also has secretariats specifically dedicated to women’s trans and intersex issues, and the caucuses of each of the secretariats provided insights [read more at Colombo Telegraph]

Originally published on 10 December 2016

Transparenting Workshop: a summary of some key ideas, #ILGA2016BKK

Summary of some of the key ideas discussed and exchanged at my #Transparenting workshop at the 2016 ILGA World Conference, Bangkok, on 30 November 2016. Read on my blog here.

Sibéal Conference 2016: Roundtable on Social Transformation

The transcript of my presentation at the roundtable on Social Transformation at the 2016 Sibéal annual conference, held at NUI Galway on 18-19 November 2016.

#Transfeminist #TransPolitics #TransWomenInTheAcademy #RepresentationMatters #GlobalTransfeministSolidarities #lka #Irl

Meeting Anne Dickson, MP CBE: The quintessential ‘grand lady’ of the politics of Northern Ireland

In June 2016, I had the good fortune of meeting Anne Laetitia Dickson MP CBE, the first woman to lead a political party in Northern Ireland (and the second in the island of Ireland). Starting her career in active politics as the chair of the Carrick Party Executive of the Unionist Party, Anne was elected to the Newtownabbey Urban District Council in 1965, and to Stormont at the infamous 1969 Crossroads election, polling 9,529 preferential votes. Anne was the only woman to be elected to the last Stormont parliament before…(Read more here).

#AnneDickson #WomenInPolitics #NorthernIreland #UlsterUnionism #UlsterUnionistParty #UPNI

[Commentary] Pride: Not Mine

Pride celebrations have begun in the township I live in, Belfast, a place where a brand of ignorant homophobia pervades the largest local political party. In a deeply divided society with enduring scars of conflict, sectarian division and antagonism, there is a great deal of ‘territoriality’ about all things progressive. Those who purport to present themselves as the forerunners of LGB and Trans activism, just like activists in many other sectors, are very keen to claim ownership of LGBTQI issues, and sideline voices that are different to their own, or coming from people from who do not fall within their careerist agendas.

Read more here.

 

[Press] BLACK LIVES MATTER: A GLOBAL MOVEMENT FOR JUSTICE COMES TO BELFAST

In 2013, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was created by Alicia Garcia, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, in the aftermath of the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of African American teenager Trayvon Martin. Today, #BlackLivesMatter (or #BLM) is a global movement for racial, gender and social justice. The central focus of #BLM activism is to highlight and campaign against multiple forms of injustice that especially affect black people. #BLM is also aninclusive movement, which strongly emphasises intersectional issues affecting racial and gender minorities. Indeed, in many cities in North America and as of late elsewhere, #BLM campaigns, protests, vigils, sit-ins and marches have been largely led by LGBTQI people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds. In North America, Black Lives Matter increasingly works in partnership with First Nations lobbies.

Read more here.