Repainting the Rainbow: A Postcolonial Analysis on the Politics of the LGBTQ Movement in Colombo, Sri Lanka

  • Citation: Arteta, Joshua. "Repainting the Rainbow: A Postcolonial Analysis on the Politics of the LGBTQ Movement in Colombo, Sri Lanka." (2019).
    • Topics:
    • IR Theories
    • Keywords:
    • South Asia
    • LGBTQ
    • LGBTQ activism
    • Sri Lanka
    • social movement theory
    • grievances
    • collective identity
    • strategy
    • postcolonial theory

LGBTQ issues have been mainstreamed in media and academic literature, especially in countries of the Commonwealth of Nations, where homosexuality has been said to be criminalized through the commonly known “sodomy laws”. This has fueled an international social movement, led by Western human rights organizations, with cultural, political and economic goals seeking to advance LGBTQ rights globally. However, research on these issues in Sri Lanka re-mains limited. This study seeks to overcome this gap by exploring the LGBTQ movement in its capital, Colombo, conducting a series of interviews to LGBTQ leaders, activists and active members of the community. The study uses social movement theory (with the concepts of grievances, collective identity and strategy) and postcolonial theory. Hence, the following re-search question is answered: How is the politics of the LGBTQ movement expressed in postcolonial Sri Lanka? Findings indicate that the movement’s grievances are connected to the country’s colonial history, as well as to the human rights discourse. Additionally, collective ‘identity’, a complex concept in Sri Lanka, was found to be “hybrid” among activists, and was contested by activists themselves. Lastly, it was found that there is an insinuation of concern in terms of mimicry in the strategies and a suggestion to decolonize from Western models of activism.

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