ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday May 4, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 49

Odds and Ends

There was a spill, followed by a long frosty moment, at a dinner in a five-star hotel in Colombo given in honour of delegates attending the recent Commonwealth Youth Ministers’ Conference. Seated at the head table were Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, Mrs. Bogollagama and Minister Gamini Lokuge. When it was time to propose a toast, Minister Lokuge tipped his glass at too sharp an angle and spilt wine on the Foreign Minister’s wife.

It was an unfortunate evening indeed for Minister Lokuge, who no sooner he sat down knocked over his glass, which rolled off the table and fell on to his lap, dangerously close to Mrs. Bogollagama.

All this was clearly too much for the lady, who promptly got up and moved to another table. It is understood that a senior member of the hotel staff received a call that night and a very indignant female voice on the line berated him over the seating arrangements at the dinner.

At a recent HIV/AIDS workshop, the Health Minister waxed eloquent on the Sri Lankan culture, claiming the country had a comparatively low count of homosexuals and lesbians. While the minister was going on about how Sri Lanka encouraged family life and discouraged people from going “down the wrong path”, a member of the audience got up and stormed out of the room (or more accurately limped out – he was carrying a walking stick after suffering injuries in a recent road accident involving a three wheeler).

The angry person happened to be the man behind the first group of gay activists to fight for the rights of gay men in this country. Asked why he had walked out of the workshop, this person said he found it intolerable to listen to the minister’s outmoded and irrelevant views on homosexuality.

Incidentally, the Minister was addressing a group of Commonwealth activists from Asia, sponsored by the Commonwealth Foundation. Two of the topics on the agenda were “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender issues pertaining to HIV and AIDS in Asia” and “Mitigating HIV and AIDS in the context of men having sex with men”.

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