Homosexuality is illegal in Sri Lanka and its constitution affirms that its prohibited to have “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”, what means one should not be seen demonstrating to be in a same-sex relation in public. The penalty for not following this law could even result in some time in jail for locals and foreigners.
When being a foreigner visiting Sri Lanka, one should keep an eye to some Buddhist customs in order not to be disrespectful. When entering a temple, for example, one should be sure to wear conservative clothes, take their shoes off, not get too close to the monks or touch them, and be respectful to all the Buddha figures. Different places have different laws regarding taking pictures of sacred sites. One should also be aware to cover its Buddha tattoos in case of having any.
Mostly all drugs are strictly forbidden in Sri Lanka, including Marijuana, and carrying them can get one in real trouble. The penalty for carrying some narcotics, depending on the quantity, can even result to be a life sentence in jail. It’s not rare to see police raids during night time on some roads.
Even though the legal age for both drinking and purchasing alcohol in Sri Lanka is 21, not much of night-life is seen in the country apart of some specific areas of Colombo or tourist destinations. Some establishments do not sell alcohol before 5pm; and there is a law that states that Sri Lankan women are not allowed to buy alcohol, which is still enforced nowadays.
Sri Lankan constitution combines a complex set of laws that sometimes can be confused with customs. Most of them are not applied to visitors, though, unless it threatens the safety of the local communities. Long-term residents should try to stay aware of it.
Written by Maria Clara