Changing the narrative
A majority of Sri Lankans reportedly view LGBTQIA+ persons as having a psychiatric disorder and destroyers of the country's cultural, religious, and traditional values. This is reflected in the laws and policies used to govern these marginalised societies. It is often stated that Sri Lankan society considers homosexuality as an “illness” and as a “foreign” or “Western” import that goes against the national interest. (Human Rights Watch, 2016).
The media sometimes further perpetuates harmful ideologies and targets the queer community.
Media platforms can be used positively, in an educational way, to raise awareness to change public opinion in favour of queer people and equality of human rights. Given the importance of the role of the media in countering negative stereotypes against queer people, FPASL, with the support of IPPF and RFSU(IPPF Sweden), have embarked on a new project, ‘ Strengthening the capacity of young LGBTQIA+ community members’ which will seek to address the stigma and misinformation and contribute to the long-term objective of LGBTQIA+ people being able to live in all parts of Sri Lanka without facing fear, discrimination, or harassment based on their sexual orientation and gender identities/expressions and fully access and enjoy their inherent basic rights as citizens.
FPASL, in the past month, carried out a five-day intensive fellowship training programme for 40 content creators and international and local experts lead the dialogue on the strengthening of queer media narratives. Simultaneous translation to local languages was provided at all sessions.
FPA received around 100 applications from across the country, and the list had a rich composition of applicants from diverse backgrounds. Finalists were chosen through a review process by a panel of judges comprising FPA staff, facilitators, panellists from the fellowship and independent consultants.
Post the 5-day intensive programme, 20 fellows will be chosen based on their performance at the programme and the submitted reports. They will be given an LKR 300,000 budget to carry out their 6-month media action plan. This will be complemented by guidance from mentors and assistance from FPA staff. Such activities have not been undertaken by FPASL previously. We hope that by providing the necessary tools to these change-makers, we can empower them to tell their stories more authentically and in a manner that will extend their reach beyond their existing networks and make a positive, sustainable change towards the acceptance decriminalisation and progress of this marginalised community.
Sessions can be viewed on FPA YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/FPASriLanka