An out champion trampoline gymnast is part of a webinar this weekend to highlight the struggles of LGBTQ people in Sri Lanka, far from his native Britain.
Luke Strong, a five-time British champion and a world and European medalist in trampoline gymnastics who came out as bisexual last year and retired this year, said he agreed to participate in the webinar to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues in Sri Lanka, where homosexuality is still illegal.
“For me, it’s so important to be able to use my voice to help people in the LGBTQ+ community any way I can,” Strong told Outsports. “To have the opportunity to share my own experience and story with people in Sri Lanka is amazing, especially given that they still criminalize our community! I just hope that by doing so I can help people feel more comfortable with who they are and let them know they’re not alone and I will fight for them in anyway I can!”
The event, which starts at 7 p.m. Sri Lanka time Sunday (9:30 a.m. ET), also features an equality director; a member of Sri Lanka’s human rights commission and award-winning Indian filmmaker Tushar Tyagi.
The situation for LGBTQ people in Sri Lanka is perilous.
Laws on the books are used to criminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults, Human Rights Watch says. In addition, “Sri Lankan authorities have subjected at least seven people to forced physical examinations since 2017 in an attempt to provide proof of homosexual conduct,” the rights group said in a 2020 report. “The exams, which include forced anal examinations and a forced vaginal examination, are a form of sexual violence as well as cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that can rise to torture.”
With there being a record number of out LGBTQ Olympians and with the NFL having its first gay player, it’s easy to forget that being LGBTQ in large parts of the world is illegal, physically dangerous or both. These kinds of webinars are needed to raise awareness, and Strong should be applauded for participating and the organizers — the Rotaract Club of Ratnapura — for putting it together.
If you want to watch the event (organizers are expecting 400 people worldwide), there is a sign-up link here.