FPA Sri Lanka in partnership with the National STD/AIDS Control Programme (NSACP)
FPA Sri Lanka in partnership with the National STD/AIDS Control Programme (NSACP) conducted a sensitization workshop on Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities and its relationship to HIV for Law Enforcement Officials, which comprised senior law enforcement officers representing the Police Training Colleges and Police Training Academy of Sri Lanka, on the 14th of September.
The workshop aimed to sensitize Law enforcement officers on LGBTI issues and help them initiate a broader and positive debate and dialogue so that the issue can be addressed within the agenda of Human Rights and HIV prevention and thereby, reduce Stigma and discrimination.
We were pleased to have Dr. Janaki Vidanapathirana, Consultant Community Physician and Head of Prevention Unit from the National STD/AIDS Control Programme conduct a session on the Strategic Directions and National Priorities of HIV prevention in Sri Lanka, and Senior Superintendent of Police Mr. Ajith Rohana (Attorney-At-Law), present how the Police enforce laws pertaining to Key populations, and what those laws are, and how it affects individuals as well as the national HIV prevention process. President's Counsel Mr PrasanthaLal De Alwis spoke about the Laws, legality and legal interpretations related to LGBT persons. Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa, Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka informed the participants on human rights and how these had been violated in the past in the pretext of enforcement of laws and what sort of remedial measures can be taken when such violations happen.
FPA Sri Lanka’s Director of the HIV & Advocacy Unit, Ms Madu Dissanayake gave a brief overview of the Multi-Country South Asia Global Fund HIV Programme and the need for a holistic approach to HIV Prevention by presenting global and regional priorities and how and why the changes to laws and policy effect HIV prevention. She also stressed on the importance of building partnerships between the community, health sector, Law enforcement units, Judiciary and Media to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development goals of 95% reduction of new infections, 95% increase for access to treatment and 95% reduction of AIDS related deaths.
The workshop offered conceptual clarity among Law enforcement officers on LGBTI issues and allowed the participants to put forth their queries, confusions and curiosities regarding LGBTI , while it provided the LGBTI groups a platform to share their personal experiences of struggles, difficulties, discrimination and ostracism faced within their own family, friends and society at large, while affirming their sexuality and urge for the inclusion of LGBTI issues within the agenda of Human Rights.
Moreover, the workshop enabled the participants to understand that the LGBTI issue is not a baseless upper or middleclass social factor; rather it has a very strong scientific basis. The programme was also able to bring out personal commitments from each participant to initiate positive aspects to stop stigma and discrimination during their daily working life, which covers training of other Police officers and working as law enforcement officers.