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Jaffna Tamils mark Pride Month with annual walk

As LGBTQI+ communities around the world mark Pride Month, Tamils in Jaffna took part in an annual walk to mark the occasion, under the theme of “unity in diversity.”

The walk started in front of the Jaffna bus stand and reached the Jaffna Public Library through Chattra Junction and Farm Road. This year, the Canadian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Eric Walsh also took part in the walk. 

“This is the third year they are doing the pride parade, such a fun event, with lots of dancing and music. The message is to be able to love the person you want to love. I think it's a very powerful message and I am happy to support here today,” he said. 

Senthuran, who has been taking part in the parade for the last two years, said that marking Pride Month on Tamil soil was a heartening achievement. "We are doing this for our happiness and joy," he said. "Many of us have left our homes, and have been chased out. Not just our homes but society and the government. The government is not in the state of mind to allow us to live freely. If you look at other countries around the world, members of our community, can live freely and marry. They have their rights respected."

"We are being asked on social media as to why we are having this walk," he continued. "But truth be told, this is our only source of joy. Can you think of the trauma and trials that we go through? Today people in Jaffna are willing to stand for our rights but we must support them to continue to do this."

Earlier this year, a group of Sri Lankan LGBTQI+ community representatives met with the Speaker of the Sri Lankan parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana, to discuss the Private Member Bill brought in by the Member of Parliament Premnath C. Dolawatte to amend Sections 365 and 365A of the Penal Code of Sri Lanka which presently criminalises same-sex conduct. 

It remains illegal to engage in same-sex relationships in Sri Lanka.

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