APCOM HERO Awards 2022’s honourees list

By November 15, 2022 December 2nd, 2022 Newsroom, Regional, What We Do

Young Achiever Honourees

Kaushal Ranasinghe

(Sri Lanka)

1. Tell us about yourself

I’m Kaushal Ranasinghe from Sri Lanka. I’m Law graduate and following my postgraduate studies on Gender and Health in medical faculty, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

I am youth leader and I working for the HIV, LGBTIQ rights, Mental health rights and policy making in national level. As a co-lead of the PACT, I working for global level HIV and SRHR issues which related youth community.

2. Tell us about your work

After I came out as a gay person in Sri Lanka, I worked as a young leader of the LGBT movement in Sri Lanka and at the Asia-Pacific level. I worked for the community in my capacity for almost 5 years doing policy advocacy as well as capacity development of new leaders and organizations, in human rights violations and legal issues of the LGBT community.

As an activist in Sri Lanka, I have been vocal for the LGBTIQ community and the youth marginalized communities who are unable to speak out about their rights. One of the highlights of working with these communities was when I was selected as the Youth Representative for the Parliament Sub-Committee for Gender. During a debate organized by the committee, on whether sex education should be given to school children, I presented findings of a survey conducted among 300 youth in favour of the decision. I believed that the collective opinion of my community should be heard in this forum therefore made efforts to gather information prior to the debate.

And currently I am working for LGBTIQ children. I raised my voiced for child rights! Therefore, the first child protection alliance of Sri Lanka choose me as a co-convener of the alliance.

3. What one achievement you’ve accomplished that you’re most proud of?

The main achievement of my activism for the LGBT community was to present the private member’s proposal to the Parliament of Sri Lanka to “ban conversion therapy and regulate psychological services”.  As a leader of the committee that advocated for that private member’s proposal, I was able to achieve several achievements that are recorded in the history of the LGBTIQ community in Sri Lanka.

  • Sri Lanka College of Psychiatrists holding a press conference to stop “conversion therapy against the
  • LGBT community”.
  • Examining the complaint I submitted to the Human Rights Commission
  • The private member’s proposal submitted to the Parliament
  • For the first time, holding a dialogue in the government media in a way that is favorable to the LGBT community

At a time when the mental health of the LGBT community has deteriorated, it is my achievement to be able to stand up for our mental health promotion.

  1. Protecting the public’s right to mental health access – https://www.themorning.lk/protecting- the-publics-right-to-mental-health-access/
  2. ARE OUR COUNSELLORS FEEDING MYTHS? – https://brunch.lk/are-our-counsellors-feeding- myths/

4. What do you find most challenging about your work?

Working in policy advocacy is challenging, and because I participated in it representing the LGBT community makes it even more challenging as some groups tried to ignore my opinion and me as a person. However, it was not easy for them to ignore me because of my educational qualifications and my extensive research and to solutions, I was often invited to policy-making opportunities in Sri Lanka.

5. What do you do to recharge your battery?

As a young person, I focused more on education, work and social responsibilities. The reason is that a group of young people follows me as a leader.

Getting the opportunity to speak for the LGBT community in particular made me a more courageous person. And searching for new knowledge also recharges me.

Lastly, the support given to me by my family is very appreciable, they are helping me to recharge, if I get lost or disappointed!

6. What is your vulnerability and how do you overcome it?

As a gay man living in Sri Lanka, I have gone through many hardships due to my sexual orientation. What I have learned so far through these difficulties is that people in my country does not understand who the LGBTIQ community is and therefore is fearful of them. I hope to work towards making the Sri Lankan society understand who we are as people and change their attitudes and misguided emotions towards the LGBTIQ community. Further, I hope to be a role model to the younger LGBTIQ persons in Sri Lanka as an APCOM hero.

7. You have been nominated for the Young Achiever category of the HERO Awards. What was your reaction?

I believe that being nominated for this Award is an appreciation for the advocacy work I have done not only in Sri Lanka but also in the Asia Pacific region over the last 5 years. I see it as another motivation for the youth groups I follow, especially in Sri Lanka. Also, being nominated for this award will help me continue to work for the LGBT youth community.

8. Despite the fact that the COVID-19 is still with us, what hopeful message would you like to share with the communities in the Asia Pacific?

Not only Covid-19 is still with us but Monkey pox is spreading right now. We should pay more attention to prevent this. We have a collective responsibility for that.

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