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While the official legal stance criminalises anything apart from heterosexual sex via the ‘unnatural relations’ Act dating back to 1886 (a British colonial law), in upper-class Colombo, there are plenty of open and vocal members of the LGBTQ community.
Widespread instances of abuse, violence and hatred towards the community are rare but do occur, especially outside the Colombo bubble.
If you’re a woman travelling or walking around on her own, or are noticeably a foreigner, you’re going to get LOTS of attention.
Whether it’s unwelcome (via catcalling or public transport harassment) or more benign (via friendly men at bars and parties), it’s bound to happen.
If you’re at a nice bar, restaurant, private hotel or resort beach, of course a bit of romancing won’t be remiss.
Whether you’ve matched on Tinder, meeting someone at a bar or just been introduced to them, the chances are they’re related to, colleagues of or former lovers of a whole bunch of people you have met or will meet in the future.
If you’re a foreigner navigating the murky waters of the sunny island’s dating pool, or just a tourist couple here for a bit of romance, there are a few things you should know in advance so you can err on the side of caution.
Public displays of affection are generally frowned upon but not dangerous.
Kinita Shenoy is the Editor-in-chief at Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka and former Editor of YAMU.lk, Sri Lanka's leading food and lifestyle guide.If these options are closed to you because you’re a tourist or a short-term expatriate, you can consider options like Tinder (Bumble isn’t activated in the country yet), activities like the Barefoot Pub Quiz on Wednesday evenings, yoga classes at Om Space, bustling beach bars or surf cafes in the South or Arugambay like Ceylon Sliders, Hideaway or W15.If you’re already in a relationship, Sri Lanka’s natural beauty is one of the best backdrops for your special moments.Most couples in Sri Lanka meet via friends or family.Another good place to meet people is in the workplace or at classes.
Be wary though, as many locals have the baseless impression of foreign, especially Caucasian or South East Asian, women being easy targets and the attention may end up making you very uncomfortable.