Sri Lankan wedding cake. Once I was dusting off my wedding suit and found some cake from a year before. It looked the same.
I recently wrote about gay marriage, which is not even on the radar in Sri Lanka. But we have another type of marriage discrimination here as well. Foreign marriage. If you marry someone non Sri Lankan, they can never become a citizen. Their lives and their rights to even be in the same country as their children are permanently unstable, and it’s patently unfair.
Sri Lanka has no immigration policy. At all. There is one loophole, if you bring in a shitload of investment or are a celebrity like Arthur C. Clarke then maybe. If you meet a nice girl and want to open roti shop and settle down, citizenship is simply not possible. Besides that one loophole, there is not path to citizenship unless you’re off Sri Lankan descent, and even dual citizenship has been (temporarily) shut down. We’re calling for foreign investment and support but making it impossible for people that love the country to settle down here. It’s dumb.
More pressingly, it’s also cruel and unfair. If you marry someone it means something, and in most countries it is a pathway to citizenship. This is important because it gives both partners equal property rights, legal rights, etc. In Sri Lanka, let’s say you’re an Australian woman that marries a Sri Lankan and has kids. Things don’t work out and you get a divorce. Since you’re on a spousal visa, at that point you actually need to leave. You have to leave your kids and apply for some other sort of visa, if you’re lucky. This is a policy that can break up families, which is deeply uncool.
What’s shocking is that a fair amount of powerful people have married foreigner yet seem to do little to budge this law. Off the top of my head, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe and former Minister Milinda Moragoda. Not to mention businessmen, lawyers, whatever. They have an interest and they should push.
I personally think Sri Lankan immigration should be possible, if you love the country, are willing to work for the country, there should be some pathway by which you can become a citizen. That’s the hallmark of an open and productive country – one which can attract and retain the best talent. That’s what’s makes the US so productive and – historically – it’s what’s made Sri Lanka awesome as well. I mean, I hate to break it to you, but we all came from India at some point (via Africa). And we all got a fair amount of Tamil in us, probably a lot of Malayali, Arab, Dutch, Portugeuse, whatever. Sri Lanka is an island and we’re built on immigration. Back then there was no policy and things got a bit weird, but I think we can handle some immigration now, legally. We should start with people that marry Sri Lankans. Because, really, it’s only fair.