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Country Overview

Sri Lanka

At a glance

Same-sex Relations for Men Legal Throughout the Country?


Same-sex Relations for Women Legal Throughout the Country?


Legal Gender Recognition Possible?


LGBTI Orgs Able to Register?


Actions Related to SOGI at the UN:

2016: Supported IE SOGI


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Same-sex relations are still criminalized under Sri Lanka's Penal Code. In 2016, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court condemned the laws, but no movement has been made to repeal them. The Penal Code, in addition to Sri Lanka’s vaguely worded Vagrancy Ordinances, provide legal coverage for police targeting, harassment, and extortion of LGBTIQ people. Prosecutions under these laws are uncommon, yet they contribute to widespread antipathy towards LGBTIQ people. Public officials have stated that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is implicitly banned under the Sri Lankan Constitution, but LGBTIQ people regularly experience discrimination. The National Human Rights Action Plan for 2017-2021 failed to explicitly protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Gender Recognition Circular was issued in 2016. The process was implemented the same year and appears to be working smoothly. Legal gender recognition can be obtained within 3-5 days, with the new identity card containing no gender history. Public officials have mixed reactions to LGBTIQ issues. While some politicians disparage LGBTIQ identities as an illness or an “import from Western culture,” other politicians have begun to express tentative support for the human rights of LGBTIQ people. Media portrayals of LGBTIQ issues are often inaccurate, which reinforces the general public’s view that LGBTIQ people threaten culture, religion, and traditional values of Sri Lanka.

Global Impact

Sub-Saharan Africa

Outright supports LGBTIQ organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa and works with mainstream human rights organizations to respect human rights and influence positive changes in laws, policies, attitudes, and beliefs that cause discrimination against LGBTIQ people on the continent.

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United Nations

Our work at the United Nations centers around advocating for the advancement of the rights of LGBTIQ people.

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Our work in Asia promotes acceptance of sexual and gender diversity at all levels of society.

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Middle East and North Africa

In the Middle East and North Africa, we partner with local groups in various countries as part of our international solidarity work. We also work with our local partners on different topics through capacity building, advocacy, research and holistic security.

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Europe and Central Asia

Outright International partners with activists to fight for an end to human rights violations based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in Europe and Central Asia, where most of our work involves emergency responses to harassment, discrimination, violence, and most recently, Russia’s brutal and expanded invasion of Ukraine.

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Our work in the Americas continues to build on the fundamental and positive transformation of human rights protections in recent years. We partner with groups in the Caribbean that focus on ending gender-based violence and eradicating discrimination against trans people.

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Our work in the Pacific aims to increase visibility of activists, respond to human rights emergencies, and actively bridge local, regional and international activism to achieve equality and justice.

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