CPA Comms Officer on 19 April, 2023

Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Bhavani Fonseka and Mirak Raheem intervene in Supreme Court Special Determination (SC SD 13/2023) in support of the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill.

Categories: Public Interest Litigation submissions

19th April 2023, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
An application was filed today in the Supreme Court to intervene in Supreme Court Special
Determination No. 13/2023 by Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of the
Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Bhavani Fonseka, Senior Researcher- CPA and Mirak
Raheem, a former Commissioner at the Office on Missing Persons and a Member- CPA.
The Intervenient Petitioners were disheartened to learn that a group of three Petitioners had
filed an Application in the Supreme Court challenging the Constitutionality of the Penal Code
(Amendment) Bill, a Private Members Bill (Bill) which seeks to ‘amend provisions that make
sexual orientation a punishable offence’ by decriminalizing sexual relations between
consenting adults of the same sex. The Petition challenging the Bill’s constitutionality is
riddled with bias, antiquated thinking, and a patent lack of regard for the rights and liberties
of others.
The Intervenient Petitioners state that the Bill is Constitutional and is in adherence with Sri
Lankas international obligations. The Intervenient Petitioners recognize that the
criminalization of sexual relations between consenting adults is an archaic colonial value with
no resonance with human rights standards. Such thinking was evident when the Supreme
Court of Sri Lanka held ‘The contemporary thinking, that consensual sex between adults
should not be policed by the state nor should it be grounds for criminalisation appears to have
developed over the years and may be the rationale that led to repealing of the offence of gross
indecency and buggery in England’ (SC Appeal 32/2011)
The Intervenient Petitioners have for decades advocated for the decriminalization of sexual
relations between consenting adults of the same sex, and the due respect and recognition for
the freedoms, rights and liberties of all people. Policing the private affairs of consenting
adults is not the role of the State, and these laws, even if rarely used to prosecute persons,
have long been used as a tool to intimidate and harass. The Intervenient Petitioners firmly
believe that the passage of the Bill by Parliament is the first step in addressing long overdue
reforms to ensure all citizens are equal before the law and treated with dignity and respect.