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Rosanna Flamer Caldera talks about life in Sri Lanka and gives a resumé on the status of LGBT rights in the UN
ANZAPI (Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands)
Up until 1995 only male homosexuality was criminalized, but when LGBT groups (Lesbians, Gay men, Bisexuals and Transgendered people) approached the Sri Lankan Government to overturn this they added lesbians to the blacklist as well.

Gays and lesbians from poorer sections of society are particularly vulnerable. They are regularly victimised, while Sri Lanka’s Police often blackmail, extort and sometimes rape them.

“Life in Sri Lanka is very tough for LGBT people. And it is probably the only country in the world that criminalizes lesbians,” Ms. Flamer-Caldera told Sydney Star Observer.

She is currently* (*mid-February 2005) in Australia on behalf of ILGA to campaign for the Australian Government to support the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) Resolution on Sexual Orientation.

The resolution put forward by Brazil in 2003 asks the United Nations (UN) to accept that LGBT rights are human rights, and countries that victimise LGBT people should be held accountable to the UN for their human rights abuses.

The resolution is due to be put forward again at the UNCHR in March. “Though we are not 100 percent sure Brazil will put the resolution forward again. There are rumours floating around they may withdraw,” Ms. Flamer-Caldera further said.

Those in support of the resolution include the European Union (EU), the Latin American and Caribbean nations, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Those opposed to it are the African nations and most Islamic countries.

The United States is “being very wishy-washy and non-committal about the whole thing”, Ms. Flamer-Caldera said, “because of their heavy leanings toward the Protestant right”.

Her meetings this week** (**14th-16th February 2005) with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade [Australian Foreign Office] in Canberra were “fruitful”, she said, and added they were mostly “very, very supportive”. However, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer was not available to meet her.

“Australia is actually very supportive, considering the climate here politically at the moment. I do not think it is the consensus of everybody that LGBT rights should be taken away. I think it is only the consensus of a few,” she said.

“But you need to stand up for your rights still and say, Hey, we are not going to go away. We are here and we want our rights.”

Ms. Flamer-Caldera will be giving*** a talk on the UNHCR resolution in Sydney tonight (***The UNHCR resolution talk was presided over by Ms. Flamer-Caldera on 17th February 2005, 6pm-8pm, at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts Auditorium, # 280, Pitt Street, Sydney, Australia).

She will be joined by activists Rodney Croome and Howard Glenn from the newly formed organisation ‘RIGHTS AUSTRALIA’.

Sydney Star Observer