HERE, and on Equal Ground's website HERE.
Prior to the event, Colombo Spirit spoke with Equal Ground's Rosanna Flamer-Caldera:
Colombo Spirit talks to Rosanna Flamer Caldera on Colombo Pride 2011
Sri Lankan born, Rosanna Flamer-Caldera was the former Co-Secretary General to the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), and is a founding member of the Women’s Support Group (1999) and EQUAL GROUND (2004), a mixed LGBTIQ organisation in Sri Lanka.
Completing seven years of operation in Sri Lanka this year, EQUAL GROUND is a non-profit organization seeking human and political rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) community in the island. Being the only organization in Sri Lanka to incorporate all members of the LGBTIQ community, and its heterosexual allies, its mission is to promote equality for all individuals.
Chatting with Rosanna, she tells me that EQUAL GROUND did not spring up overnight. Rather, it had tough beginnings, as does any new organisation. She recounts how the Board of Trustees dipped into their own pockets to provide funding for the organisation. However, following the first six months, which were focussed on the ‘setting up’ process, things later picked up, with the support of several individuals/organisations.
EQUAL GROUND counts it lucky that they have not had any issues in dealing with the Government in certain matters, and has even been able to avoid the red tape of organisation listing, by registering themselves as a ‘trust’.
In the wake of the 2004 Tsunami, EQUAL GROUND called out to the queer community overseas, and were able to raise a significant amount of money to assist with relief and rehabilitation in the affected areas in Sri Lanka. All funds that came into the organisation, from donor agencies, were spent on the provisions etc, with all administrative costs still being borne by the Board of Trustees of EQUAL GROUND.
In 2005, Rosanna co-authored a booklet titled ‘Human, Right?’ – a Human Rights publication aimed at encouraging a better understanding of LGBTIQ people in Sri Lanka, and also abroad (this was also translated into Sinhala and Tamil). EQUAL GROUND also initiated the first ever Colombo PRIDE event in 2005, one that is now held annually in Colombo.
Rosanna, herself, is determined to achieve, what she calls, ‘Equality for all’. I asked her exactly what she means by this.
Well-versed on the subject, she tells me about Article 365A of the Penal Code, which criminalises gross indecency between two people against the order of nature. Many people use this information to bully the LGBT community, but this law applies to both LGBT as well as non-LGBT persons, she stresses.
She also mentions a recent incident when EQUAL GROUND’s attempt to include a paid advertisement about the International Day Against Homophobia was turned down by two leading newspapers in Colombo, for fear of encouraging this “lifestyle”.
Women’s movements and other rights movements in Sri Lanka (Colombo, in particular) are also not very supportive as of yet, Rosanna laments. However she adds that there are a few organisation who are supportive, mainly in areas outside of Colombo, such as Anuradhapura, Nuwara Eliya, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Galle etc.
EQUAL GROUND strives to lead by example. In light of this, everyone, regardless of whether they are from different ethnicities, classes, castes, are of different orientations, gender identities or language is welcome at our office, Rosanna says. We do not marginalise. Basically, we want every person in Sri Lanka to be treated equal under the law and social structure, she explains.
Moving onto the instigation of Colombo PRIDE, “It all started with a party in June of 2005,” Rosanna claims. Emulating celebrations of diversity in cities such as Toronto and Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sri Lanka too now hosts Colombo PRIDE (in the months of May or June annually – with June being ‘PRIDE month’ globally), aimed at raising awareness about the issues faced by the LGBTIQ community in Sri Lanka and also celebrating diversity.
This week-long celebration consists of events such as an art and photo exhibition, film festival, PRIDE party and rainbow kite festival, which is attended by both LGBT as well as non-LGBT members of the community.
Colombo PRIDE 2011 will also feature these signature events. In addition, there will also be a workshop (focussing on the ‘struggle against homophobic violence’), an Auntie Netta show (speaking to young people about ‘coming out’), as well as a business forum, hosted by LBR/LBO, the British High Commission and EQUAL GROUND (on accepting diversity in business, and its effect on bottomlines).
This year’s event is sponsored by the American, Swiss, Dutch and Norwegian Embassies, as well as the British High Commission, the Goethe-Institut, ETV, The Colombo Spirit, LBR and LBO.
Keep reading Colombo Spirit to find out more details on all events planned for Colombo PRIDE 2011!
|7-9 September 2012|
Brussels Gay Sports will offer a weekend of fun and fairplay in the capital of Europe, with volleyball, swimming, badminton, and tennis, as well as fitness and hiking.
Learn more HERE.
|26-28 October 2012|
The success of the first edition of the QueergamesBern proved the need for an LGBT multisport event in Switzerland. This year will be even bigger, with badminton, bowling, running, walking, floorball.
Learn more HERE.
|17-20 January 2013|
Sin City Shootout
The 7th Sin City Shootout will feature softball, ice hockey, tennis, wrestling, basketball, dodgeball, bodybuilding and basketball.
Learn more HERE.
|13-16 June 2013|
IGLFA Euro Cup
After this year's edition in Budapest at the EuroGames, the IGLFA Euro Cup heads to Dublin for 2013, hosted by the Dublin Devils and the Dublin Phoenix Tigers.
Learn more HERE.