Journalistic Writing

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.

Decolonising the academy: the only way forward: 1

An eye-opener of a sojourn?

My recent visit to Canada, to attend the two largest academic events in political science in francophone and Anglophone Canada, was an eye opener, and a stark reminder of the ways in which racial, socioeconomic and political hierarchies operate in academia. It was also a fulsome confirmation of the ways in which knowledge production takes place in the field of international politics. The near-totality of research work on peace processes, power-sharing, peacebuilding, conflict management, IR theory is, pace a handful of rare exceptions, all done by cis white people in the global North. After a few months of field work in x and y location in the global South, they structure their arguments, present papers at conferences, publish in scholarly journals and academic publication houses, and the knowledge they produce thus becomes the ‘status quo’ knowledge. It is this body of work that serves as ‘the’ reference to their very powerful and influential Western governments, supra-national bodies and, appallingly, to the large majority of governments in the global South. To the so-called urbane, Westernised ‘civil society lobbies’ in countries in the global South (especially in deeply divided societies), the work produced by cis white academics in the global North is, [continue reading here].

Questioning the gender binary: an absolute priority

A cursory glance at the ways in which a large number of people out there write about feminism would suffice to denote a worrying reality — to an awful lot of self-proclaimed feminists, ‘feminism’ continues to be a movement, a discourse and an analytical tool meant near-exclusively for cis, able-bodied and wealthy white women. It goes without saying that the many efforts to question, critique and deconstruct this approach to ‘feminism’ need to continue, with the utmost vigour and energy. If someone advocates for a feminism that only encompasses cis women, then it is a form of oppression that perpetuates a colonial, patronising and a very ‘white’ attitude, as this type of discourse strongly rests on, reinforces and reaffirms the gender binary. The gender binary is all but a thoroughly outdated, colonial Abrahamic, invasive, intrusive and brutally violent concept. It should have no decisive place in a progressive world. The extent of one’s commitment to the gender binary provides a fine measurement of their commitment to equality and justice to all. Coming from a non-Western sociocultural….[Read more here].

[Podcast]Repenser le pluralisme ? Propagandes médiatiques et les enjeux à la cohésion sociale : regards croisés sur l’expérience londonienne

Podcast portant sur ma communication lors du congrès annuel de 2016 de la Société Québécoise de Science Politique. Pour l’écouter, veuillez cliquer ici.

[Press] On the ‘cisgender’ problem of gender equality work

A cursory glance at universities, research centres, government bodies and international organisations suffices to note that a great deal of work is being done in promoting gender equality, and in raising awareness about persistent problems such as the gender pay gap and gender disparities in many sectors. This article is intended at zooming in on a problematic issue that can be observed in nearly all of the gender equality initiatives out there. It is also an omnipresent problem, from institutional/localised levels to more influential governmental and supra-national…

Read more here.

[Press] On the importance of Trans-Inclusivity in reproductive justice campaigns

As the media zooms in on ‘trans visibility’, trans issues and trans people are discussed in the public domain more openly than ever. The so-called transgender ‘tipping point’ and the media’s zooming in on trans celebrities conceals major challenges and restrictions to the fundamental rights of trans people across the world, which the mainstream media tends to summarily ignore.

Read more here.

[Press] Women and Politics, Intersectionalities and Inclusion

The political Studies Association’s Women and Politics Specialist Group(WPSG) meeting was perhaps the most thought-provoking event that I attended during my brief passage to Brighton for the PSA’s 2016 annual conference earlier this week.

Read more here.

[Press] Gender self-determination: An absolute human rights priority

The Gender Recognition Act 2015 signified a breath of fresh air to Irish legislation, and a solace to the trans community in the Irish Republic. For trans people in Northern Ireland, it is still the same old story, with recourse to mental health professionals, waiting lists and a long-winded process to acquire a Gender Recognition Certificate according to existing UK legislation. In many countries in Western Europe, as this writer highlighted in a recent article, it used to be compulsory for trans people to undergo not only medical transition but obligatory, if not forced sterilisation to be recognised as trans, or to be assigned their actual gender. Such policies that involved an absolute infringement of fundamental rights were reversed only recently in many countries, including Scandinavia. However, apart from Ireland and Denmark, other EU member states continue to lag behind when it comes to securing the right for gender self-determination to their citizens.

Read more here.

[press] Addressing ETCA With Serophobia & Misogyny: No Way Forward

In December 2015, a medical doctor-turned politician and serving MP, Nalinda Jayathissa, demonstrated an appalling level of homophobia and transphobia in an interview with the Daily News. Several commentators and analysts highlighted the ignorance and insensitivity of these assumptions, all the more worrying when they came from a young MP representing a party with a non-negligible support base among educated youth, especially in university student circles. Despite several op-ed columns in Sinhala and English and letters addressed to the party leadership by LGBTQI advocacy groups, the JVP is yet to clarify whether Jayathissa’s views represent the JVP’s official position on LGBTQI rights, or not.

Read more here. [published on 23 February 2016].

[press] Reproductive justice: Achilles’ heel of Ireland, North and South

As the Irish general election approaches, one of the most conflicting issues that politicians often try to avoid discussing is that of reproductive justice, reductively referred to as ‘abortion’. Despite recent advancements in progressive legislation, such as marriage equality and the Gender Recognition Act of 2015, Irish authorities remain considerably averse to promoting progressive legislation on reproductive justice. In Northern Ireland, where a stalemate remains on both #reprojustice and#equalmarriage, political debates are marked by a strong sense of social conservatism, with larger political parties using debates on these issues to reaffirm their conservative (and invariably misogynist) attitudes. More often than not, discussions on the subject are reduced to paranoid interjections, mainly by cisgender and heteronormative men, upholding non-arguments such as the infamous ‘abortion-on-demand’. Those subscribing to opinions of this nature are simply unprepared to accept the concept of gender equality, and their views on reproductive justice provide an insight into a deeply ingrained inclination to exercise control on (in their opinion) female bodies. As far as the political establishment is concerned, there is a clearunwillingness to address the issue. In the #GE16 campaign, the issue is addressed cautiously, with Labour, for example, pledging a referendum.

Read more here. [published on 24 February 2016]

[Press] Reproductive rights and trans rights: deeply interconnected yet too often misunderstood?

When the issue of reproductive justice is raised, many people tend to focus exclusively on cisgender women. It is of vital importance to extend reproductive justice-related activism and discourses to include trans/genderqeer/nonbinary and other gender-plural people, which also involves using gender-inclusive language.[*] Over the last few years, trans activists have increasingly sought to highlight the salient reality that reproductive justice acutely concerns trans people, but more work is required to make reproductive justice-related debates and campaigns more trans-inclusive.

Read more here.[published on 9 February 2016]

Instagram

[Repost, from @alowijesinghe]. A new generation of queer writers and activists is already active and slaying in Sri Lanka🇱🇰🏳️‍🌈. When the President of Sri Lanka comes on stage at a public rally to engage in a blatantly and shamelessly homophobic rant, Sri Lankan queer people won’t remain silent. This is an excellent example of such resistance, by my dear friend @alowijesinghe It was an absolute honour to help out with edits etc. and I’d highly recommend this piece to anyone interested in SOGIESC advocacy and resistance to cis-heteronormative #politics in the global South, outside the ngo-industrial complex, by deeply committed queer people, especially youth. #alokawijesinghe #lka #coupLK #aiyosirisena #srilanka #srilanka🇱🇰 #queerliberation #lesbian #queerwomen #srilankanqueer #writing #colombotelegraph
Word. #NayyirahWaheed #blackgirlmagic #blackfeminism #poetry
It is not only in #Brazil that hell is breaking lose. #Fascism and a drift to a #dynastic #dictatorship is also happening in #SriLanka right now. In such trying times, it is very important to take a clear, bold and no-nonsense stand against fascists, as highlighted in this latest political commentary signée Yours Truly, calling for robust resistance against Sri Lanka’s drift to a #bolsonaro moment. #lka #democracy #constitutionalism #couplk #lkpoliticalcrisis #rights #ruleoflaw #genderjustice
Commentary on the current political crisis in #SriLanka🇱🇰. Neoliberal politics in the global south are bound to end up in disaster if political agendas are not custom-made to correspond to the specifics of local contexts. Things risk getting worse. The political analysis put aside, I am concerned for my #SriLankan #intersectional #feminist #queer fam 🇱🇰🏳️‍🌈& for all #ethnicminorities. Tough times ahead. #lka #politicalcrisis #politics #womeninpolitics #genderjustice #powergrab #colombotelegraph #queerliberation #miexistiresresistir✊🏾
#istandwithSaakya - a 17 year-old #SriLankan who was subjected to abusive treatment by the principal of her school, the #colombointernationalschool , for bringing a rainbow flag to school. What is all the more worrying is that the principal is à white British cis woman, who still continues to impose her #Victorian values on a Sri Lankan kid, in 2018! #lka #protectqueerkids #srilanka🇱🇰 #srilankaisnext #repeal365 #lka
My book « #Decolonising #Peacebuilding: Managing #Conflict from #NorthernIreland to #SriLanka » is now available to preorder at: https://www.cambridgescholars.com/decolonising-peacebuilding This book faced considerable opposition from many publishers and academics who were angered by its critique of white privilege in the Peace and Conflict Studies academy. Several editors were hell-bent in their efforts to convince me that I should “tone down” the critique. One editor in Turtle Island, a white settler cis woman, went as far as giving me some whitefeminist counsel “the Western academy is a #racist place so you need to know who your allies are. I’m trying to be supportive here”. I told all of them where to go, and tried to develop a critical perspective on how “conflict”, “politics of deeply divided societies” (especially in the global south/s), “peacebuilding” and “lesson-learning” are perceived and understood in the western academy and in Eurocentric political circles. This book is, therefore, an act of resistance against a system that seeks to shut down critical voices that challenge cishetwhite privileges in the western academy. At another level, this book was also penned with the incisive policymaker in the global South/s and the global North in mind. It is also an example of the necessity of ensuring that #QTBiPoC voices are heard and heeded in the academy and very especially in world politics #miexistiresresistir #srilanka🇱🇰 #ireland🍀 #NorthernIreland #Ulster #lka #Decolonize #knowledgeproduction #globalsouth #resist #ivorytower #chamindraweerawardhana #DecolonisingPeacebuilding

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