UN Women’s Rights Committee Rules That Criminalization Of Same-sex Relations Between Women Human Rights Violation

UN Women’s Rights Committee Rules That Criminalization Of Same-sex Relations Between Women Human Rights Violation
Photo Source: by Markus Spiske on Pexels


Linda Osman

Women’s Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence.

In a landmark decision released two days ago, a UN women’s rights committee found that the criminalization of consensual, same-sex intimacy between women is a human rights violation.

The decision in a case brought by Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, Executive Director of EQUAL GROUND, the main LGBT organization in Sri Lanka, with the support of the Human Dignity Trust, sets a major legal precedent, holding that the criminalization of lesbian and bisexual women violates the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women said that the Sri Lankan authorities have subjected Ms. Flamer-Caldera to gender-based discrimination and violence, and had not taken any legal or other measures to respect and protect her right to a life free from gender-based violence, or to eliminate the prejudices to which she has been exposed as a woman, lesbian and activist.

It also found that the authorities have breached her right to access to justice, since the criminal law constrains her ability to complain of abuses.

The Committee urged Sri Lanka to decriminalize same-sex sexual activity. It also requested that the State take immediate and effective action to stop the threats, harassment, and abuse, which Ms. Flamer-Caldera has been subjected to and ensure that she and EQUAL GROUND can carry out their activism safely and freely. Additionally, the Committee pressed Sri Lanka to pursue criminal processes to hold those responsible for her abuse to account.

It has also recommended ensuring that victims of gender-based violence against the sexual minority community to have access to effective civil and criminal remedies and protection including counselling, health services, and financial services, addressing workplace discrimination against LBTI women, and providing sensitization training to law enforcement agencies.

Sources and further reading:

Econo my next (2022, 24 March), “UN body finds Sri Lanka’s criminalisation of same-sex relations between women human rights violation”



Matrix Chambers, (2022, 23 March) “UN committee ruled that the criminalisation of lesbian and bisexual women breaches the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women”



Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women,(2022, 23 March), Decision concerning communication No. 134/2018.