Royal Commonwealth Sponsorship Award 2018

by Royal Commonwealth Society of Bath and District Branch
Report on
Community Empowerment Through Leadership, democracy and human rights training for LGBITQ+ Community in Sri Lanka – 2018 – 2019
Thiyagaraja Waradas

With the award, I was able to travel to Sri Lanka in October 2018. Due to the political turmoil happened in the country during the constitutional coup of October 2018 I had to postpone one of the two workshops supposed to be held in Kandy where majority of the LGBTIQ member are Sinhala speaking. Situation become volatile with the Easter bombs in April 2019, Kandy being one of the hot spot for violence against Muslims, I had to postpone the workshop in Kandy. Eventually, I brought the workshop in Colombo where few members of the LGBITQ community from Kandy joined the workshop. The second workshop also had to be postponed due to same reasons and eventually I was able to hold it in Jaffna with the participation of around 20 members from Tamil Speaking LGBTIQ community. The workshop was held in Adayalaam Policy Research Centre.

With the support of the RCS award, I was able to hold two workshops which focused on the human rights of persons with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) and the nature of democracy in Sri Lanka. Young LGBTIQ community members and activists did share their experience of navigating political situations where democracy of the country is being threatened. The workshop in shifted to Colombo had a foreign speaker from the University of Connecticut facilitating conversation on politics, body and desire of the LGBTIQ Community. Another, researcher from the Goldsmith College of University of London joined the conversation. Both workshops were well attended by diverse group of members from the LGBTIQ community.