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Sri Lanka’s president says government will not oppose bill to decriminalize homosexuality

  • Newly elected Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced Sunday his government would not oppose the motion submitted by Member of Parliament and attorney-at-law Premnath C. Dolawatte to decriminalize LGBTQ-plus rights.
  • “We are for it, but you have to get the support of individual members. It’s a matter of their private conscience,” Wickremesinghe said, addressing Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power.
  • The bill, titled “Penal Code (Amendment) (19th Act) bill to amend the Penal Code,” was first submitted by Dolawatte on Aug. 24.
  • Under sections 365 and 365A in Sri Lanka’s Penal Code, those who are caught having voluntary intercourse with the same sex can face a prison sentence of not less than 10 years and up to 20 years with fines.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who took office in July, said Sunday that the Sri Lankan government would not oppose the motion to decriminalize consensual sexual relations between same-sex couples in the country.

Speaking to Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power, Wickremesinghe said the bill, which would amend sections 365 and 365A of the Sir Lanka Penal Code, will still require support from parliament members.

Deposed Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa denied US visa, flees to the Maldives via jet

  • Deposed Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has reportedly fled to the Maldives with his family on a military jet, days after being denied a visitor's visa by the U.S. embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • Rajapaksa had requested a visa to travel to California over the weekend after fleeing the presidential palace, which was stormed by angry protesters on Sunday.
  • “It was made very clear to him that there will be no visa for him,” a representative from the embassy was quoted by SBS as saying. “He could go there as a head of state without a visa, but the current circumstances are different.”
  • Rajapaksa and his brother’s earlier attempt to flee the country was also foiled by airport staff and angry locals who blocked them from boarding a flight to Dubai.
  • On Wednesday, the country’s air force confirmed that Rajapaksa had flown to the Maldives with his wife and two security officials.

Deposed Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa reportedly flew to the Maldives on a military jet, days after being denied a visitor’s visa by the U.S. embassy in Colombo. 

Rajapaksa, who fled the presidential palace after it was stormed by angry protesters on Saturday, had requested a visa to travel to California over the weekend.

Sri Lanka president captured on video fleeing as protestors storm Colombo residence

  • President Rajapaksa is seen running and rolling his luggage onto a large navy ship in a recent video.
  • The now-resigned president's escape comes after the storming of his official Colombo residence and the burning of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s home.
  • Following a mass resignation of the cabinet, the prime minister and president also resigned within the week.
  • The large-scale takeover by the demonstrators and resignation comes after months of protests on the streets of Sri Lanka and its worst economic crisis in history.

Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was captured on video escaping via ship on the day protesters stormed his official Colombo residence. 

In the video, President Rajapaksa is seen running and rolling his luggage onto a large navy ship. His escape comes after the storming of his official Colombo residence and the burning of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s home, which occurred on Saturday — now deemed D-Day. The large viral demonstrations took place despite the president’s attempts at a 36-hour state of emergency and ban of social media.

Sri Lanka bans social media as citizens protest against worst economic crisis in country’s history

SRI_LANKA_CRISIS
  • An economic crisis years in the making has caused prices of daily necessities in Sri Lanka to skyrocket.
  • At least two people have died while lining up for hours just to buy fuel.
  • The turmoil has led to protests that forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to declare a state of emergency last Friday and a curfew that lasted for three days.
  • To “maintain calm,” the Ministry of Defense then imposed a sweeping social media ban, which was lifted hours later after protests from the opposition.
  • The country is now negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout, but discussions are expected to last until the end of the year.

Sri Lanka has become the latest Asian country to ban social media in an attempt to quell protests against its government, whose alleged incompetence has reportedly led to the worst economic crisis in the country’s history.

The temporary ban, which restricted access to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp, was placed on Sunday under orders from the Ministry of Defense. Jayantha de Silva, chairman of the federal telecom regulatory authority, told Reuters that it was “imposed in the interests of the country and people to maintain calm.”