#Commonwealth Equality Project
Hashtag Generation was part of the 2021 Commonwealth Equality Project (CEP) conducted by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. The initiative was aimed at supporting local decision-makers and civil society actors in sixteen commonwealth countries, with a specific focus on eliminating gender-based and SOGIESC-based discrimination. Hashtag Generation was part of a network of organisations and stakeholders in addressing the structural and systemic discrimination faced by the LGBTIQ+ community in Sri Lanka.
Based on a survey conducted on knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions about the LGBTIQ+ community within Sri Lankan society and gap analysis on the laws and policies affecting the community, Hashtag Generation launched an online communications and outreach campaign spanning Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram. The campaign consisted of posts, infographics, short videos and an animated short story encapsulating the lived experiences of LGBTIQ+ people in Sri Lanka. The outreach content addressed structural issues outlined by the gap analysis, particularly with regard to the existing laws that penalise and criminalise queer and trans people, as well as the barriers to accessing more recent formal equality policies such as the gender recognition certificate, gender-affirming surgery, and right to non-discrimination in employment.
Based on the findings of the perceptions and attitudes survey the advocacy material also outlined the social and familial expectations which result in the stigmatisation, ostracization, and violence against LGBTIQ+ people. This included issues such as corrective rape, forced marriage, doxxing and ‘outing’, lack of access to legal protection, discrimination in healthcare and housing, and inaccurate caricature-like depictions of LGBTIQ+ people in popular media. Several of these pieces were also based on real-life stories of LGBTIQ+ individuals. An animated short story about the life of a transgender man named Roshan elucidated the nuances of the lived experiences of a transgender person, and gender dysphoria, and attempted to expel several myths and stigmas surrounding this community.