Since 2016, OutRight has been working with our Sri Lankan partner Women’s Media Collective (WMC) to address issues of domestic and family violence against lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. OutRight’s research has shown that in Sri Lanka almost all LBT people interviewed for a 2014 report experienced family violence, over two-thirds reported surviving physical violence, and more than half reported sexual violence in their lifetime.
A culture of homophobia and transphobia, criminalization of same-sex relations and discrimination from health practitioners, often deter survivors of family or partner violence from seeking help.
OutRight and WMC have sensitized Sri Lankan mental health professionals about the impact of coerced sexuality and gender conformity on LBT people and raised the visibility of the issues. I am happy to say that we have made some incredible progress. I wanted to share with you some highlights of what we were able to accomplish with our partners:
- For the first time, there is a manual for counsellors and trainings that enable mental health practitioners to provide non-discriminatory, counseling to LBT people.
- A social media campaign has encouraged conversations about a heteronormative understanding of families and use of violence to force LBT persons to change and conform.
- A report on LBT-specific concerns was presented to the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and is now being used by women’s organizations to advocate for sexuality as a feminist issue.
Through this partnership with WMC we have improved the quality of interventions and services to LBT victim-survivors of domestic violence and family violence in Sri Lanka.
Building productive and trusting relationships with grassroots organizations is a critical component of OutRight’s vision and strategy to advancing LGBTIQ rights everywhere.