The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on mental health worldwide. High mortality rates, unknown aspects of the virus, as well as strict public health measures, have led to a surge of anxiety, depression and/or substance misuse.

While the pandemic has negatively impacted the lives of everyone, marginalised groups have borne a higher cost. Indeed, the pandemic has magnified pre-existing discrimination, violence, oppression, as well as social stigma and economic hardship, faced by LGBT+ people.

Societal attitudes towards LGBT+ individuals vary from one country to another. Across the world, many states have taken reformist steps to accommodate the concerns and redress, amend or repeal discriminatory policies and laws that impact the LGBT+ community. Despite numerous recent victories, in many parts of the world, members of the LGBT+ community continue to face intimidation, harassment, physical and sexual abuse, violence, and discrimination both in their offline and online lives.

To invoke a political slogan that has recently gained popularity, all Sri Lankans are entitled to ‘one country, one law.’ This gap analysis identifies the clear differences in how Sri Lankan laws are experienced by groups like LGBTIQ+ Sri Lankans who live mostly in the margins of Sri Lankan society. Examining a wide variety of laws and policies in Sri Lanka, it demonstrates how LGBTIQ+ Sri Lankans are vulnerable to discrimination across several critical areas, such as education, healthcare and housing. 

The global situation for LGBTIQ+ people, though improving, still has a considerable way to go before full equality is reached. Momentum over the last ten years to recognise and protect the human rights of everyone has grown. Parliaments alongside courts have played a substantial role in turning the tide on discrimination and violence. There is still much to do. The LGBTIQ+ community is as diverse as any other. Defining another’s identity is a polemic and complex issue.