Colombo, Aug 21 – Sri Lanka’s Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha is no stranger to controversy. His May 2000 ruling as the head of the quasi legal Press Council should have been reason enough to keep him out of the current cabinet, but the Prime Minister appears to have thought otherwise.
It is unclear if Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was aware of the landmark decision of Rajapaksha which could be considered a 21st century disgrace to the country.
In deciding on a complaint filed by a gay rights activist against the Island newspaper, Rajapaksha ruled that lesbianism equals sadism and did not think there was anything wrong in calling convicted sexual offenders to “cure” lesbians of their “illness” by raping them.
Hate mail against women who love women had been published by the newspaper in good faith, Rajapaksha ruled. In a bizarre turn of events, he said the male activist who brought the action against the newspaper should be fined 2,100 rupees.
Activist Sherman de Rose complained against an Island publication which advocated rape of lesbians, but Rajapaskha saw it as part of a healthy public discourse in response to a conference lesbian activists were hosting in Colombo.
“Lesbianism is at least an act of gross indecency and unnatural. If people of this country have a right to publish that a conference of lesbians would be held in Colombo, the people have a right to express their opinion either for or against.
“One of the readers of ‘The Island’ namely, P. Alles, states in his article to the editor that he feels it appropriate that for the police to get the convicted rapist to give zest and relish to misguided wretches to understand the reality of natural sexual pleasure than the unnatural sexual activities.
“Probably the writer and publisher may have considered that lesbianism is much more vulnerable and improper than publishing an article condemning the proposed lesbians’ conference,” according to Rajapaksha’s ruling.
He also ruled that de Rose could not make a complaint because he himself was never in danger of being raped as he was a man.
“The complainant in any event is not a female, who can participate in lesbian activities,” Rajapaksha said. “He cannot be subject to any such rape as referred to in the (Island) article and therefore, he cannot be a victim of such violence.” This is Hon. Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha, the minister of Justice in 21st century Sri Lanka.
More than two years after having him in the cabinet, his colleagues are asking for his ouster, not over his homophobia, but failing to prosecute members of the former regime.