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Lawyers explained that the right to propagate religion should not be enshrined as a fundamental right in the new Constitution as it would serve as an impetus for the promotion of fundamentalism and unethical conversions.

Member of the Public Representations Committee on Constitutional Reforms, President’s Counsel Shirley Mahinda Kushan de Alwis pointed out that preaching should however be allowed.

Elsewhere, he added that the six sub-committee reports on fundamental rights, the judiciary, law and order, public finance, public service and centre-periphery relations did not address the question of the future of the Presidential system and the electoral system.

He noted that any amendments to it should figure at the forefront as it was intrinsically linked to matters such as those concerning Provincial Councils.

“For an example, the President exercises control in the Provinces through the Governor and in this regard there are contentious proposals such as those to reduce the powers afforded to Governors and increase those of the Chief Ministers,” De Alwis said.

While staying within the scope of Article 15 of the Constitution and with the view of keeping abreast with the developments and changes that have taken place in the rest of the world, he added that certain rights should be granted to individuals with diverse gender identities or sexual orientations such as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual community.

“There is a lack of transparency in the process which is exemplified by the fact that the six sub-committees and their reports have not touched on whether the Executive Presidency should be continued or not and are also silent about the electoral system,” De Alwis said.

These are very important aspects. In relation to the new Constitution if it is to be amendments to the existing one or one major amendment which would overhaul in toto, the content must however be approved by the people, it must be voted on and therefore must be put for a referendum. The people must know,” he added.

RLJ