Edmonton gay marriage video sparks conversation in Sri Lanka


Video of an Edmonton couple’s wedding goes viral in Sri Lanka and sparks conversations about same-sex marriage in a country where it is still illegal.

Sithara and Jenn Fernando tied the knot in October 2019 in a hybrid ceremony of Western tradition and the Poruwa ceremony, a Sinhala ritual involving the two families that takes place on a decorated wooden platform.

“One of the things that was really important to me, and Jenn, was basically that we wanted to show that you can be gay while celebrating your culture,” Sithara said in an interview with CBC. Active radio.

“My parents, who are immigrants who came to Canada in the 1980s …

The wedding video was posted on Youtube in November of the same year, where it has now been viewed over 600,000 times.

The video recently started making the rounds on social media after being posted to a Sinhala-language Facebook page last weekend, where it garnered nearly 7,000 shares.

Sithara said it was brought to her attention on Tuesday morning with a call from her mother. Her parents were receiving phone calls from people in Sri Lanka commenting on the marriage and congratulating them.

“[It is] pretty shocking for us, “Sithara said.” Me and Jenn, were kind of happy when the video went out and a few hundred people watched it, and then we kind of forgot about it. “

Sithara Fernando, left, wore jewelry and a sari worn by her sisters at their weddings. (Dave Brosha Photography)

The discussion on social media is more divided, with some of the nearly 5,000 comments on the post claiming that same-sex marriage is incompatible with Sri Lankan culture.

But Sithara notes that there are a lot of comments on how things should turn out.

“It’s also very encouraging to see our little wedding video starting conversations in places where we never thought those conversations could take place,” she said.

Homosexual relations are still criminalized under the Sri Lankan penal code. OutRight Action International, an international LGBTQ human rights organization, notes that although the Supreme Court condemned the laws in 2016 there has been no attempt to actually repeal them.

The couple received Facebook messages from strangers who said they never knew they could have such a marriage and told their parents about a same-sex marriage.

“We both struggled to come out of the closet, we both struggled to find people in mainstream media or fringe media who reflect who we are and be able to be that example to someone. else is a huge thing, ”says Sithara.

“I’m super happy that this has happened.”

Jenn shares this happiness.

“It was surprising to go through some of the comments and see that there was a discussion there,” she said. “A lot of people have been like, ‘Oh, I don’t know how I’m feeling exactly about this.

“But these two seem to be in love and that’s all that matters. ‘”

Jenn said it’s a conversation that’s still going on in Edmonton too, but understanding can be gained through that dialogue.

“Love is love,” she said.

“I am so happy to be surrounded by people who support me and that people can see it from all over the world.”

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