Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana Wickramaratne has issued a circular setting out new guidelines to police on dealing with transgender persons and persons who have undergone gender transition.
The circular, titled "Matters to be considered when dealing with transgender persons and persons who have undergone gender transition," contains a set of guidelines that police are expected adhere to when performing duties in respect of transgender persons and persons who have undergone gender transition.
Accordingly, complaints received from a transgender person or persons who have undergone gender transition regarding physical or psychological harassment through inuendo or verbal comments and complaints against such a person shall be investigated by the Unit for the Prevention of Abuse of Children and Women under the direct supervision of the relevant HQI / Officer-in-Charge.
Should there be any issue regarding such a complaint, the relevant HQI / Officer-in-Charge should seek instructions from the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of the Range for Investigation of Abuse of Children & Women or the Director of the said Division.
Upon the completion of such investigation, the files shall be forwarded to the Director / Police Legal Division and based on further instructions received, prosecution should be initiated, or file shall be closed upon completion of the investigation.
When a transgender person or a person who has undergone gender transition is arrested in connection with an offence, such person shall be searched and inspected with due regard to decency, by a male or female officer as deemed appropriate.
When a transgender person or a person who has undergone gender transition is detained, such a person shall be kept in the custody of a female warden or a female officer as deemed appropriate. Under no circumstances shall such persons be subjected to verbal / physical or psychological harassment or humiliation by police officers, the circular further notes.
Moreover, speeches or statements which could lead to discrimination or marginalisation of transgender persons and persons who have undergone gender transition shall not be made in lecturers conducted in training centres of Sri Lanka Police or in training workshops conducted by guest lecturers. It shall be the responsibility of the heads of every training centre / unit to inform the lecturers that such matters should not be included in their lectures and ensure that they act accordingly.
None of the above provisions shall preclude from taking actions under Sections 365, 365A, 365B and 365C of the Penal Code. However, arresting such persons or conducting anal or vaginal examinations with the intention of taking legal actions against them shall never be done without a formal complaint or reasonable grounds.
Legal action should not be taken against a transgender person or a person undergoing gender transition solely based on the grounds of concealing their sexual transition from the society, unless it is done so with criminal intent.
Since possession of contraceptive pills, capsules or condoms is not an offence, no person shall be questioned or arrested solely on the grounds of such possession and no action shall be taken against such persons under the "Vagrants Ordinance" or any other law for that reason alone, the IGP has instructed officers.
"Since transgender persons or persons who have undergone gender transition also enjoy equal rights and the right to equal treatment as citizens of Sri Lanka, actions should be taken in a manner that they are not discriminated against in the process of implementation of the law, ensuring the protection of the law and the administration of the law," the circular adds.
However, the IGP emphasises that none of the provisions in the circular should be considered as an interference to the legal obligations of the Sri Lanka Police and / or police officers to act in terms of the law as per the provisions laid out in the Penal Code and / or other written laws regarding criminal offences.