(WB) The president of Sri Lanka on Sunday said his government will not oppose a bill that would decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations in the country.

The Colombo Gazette, a Sri Lankan newspaper, reported Ranil Wickremesinghe made the comment during a meeting with U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power. 

Sri Lanka, a former British colony, is among the countries in which homosexuality remains criminalized.

The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in March ruled the criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual activity in Sri Lanka violated the rights of Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, executive director of Equal Ground, a Sri Lankan LGBTQ and intersex rights group. 

Parliamentarian Premnath Dolawatte last month introduced a bill that would amend Sri Lanka’s Penal Code to decriminalize homosexuality. The Colombo Gazette reported Wickremesinghe said “individual” MPs will have to decide whether to support the measure.

“We are for it, but you have to get the support of individual members,” he said. “It’s a matter of their private conscience.”

Flamer-Caldera on Monday told the Washington Blade that she is “optimistically cautious” after Wickremesinghe’s comments.

While the president and his government won’t oppose it still needs to be passed in Parliament,” said Flamer-Caldera. “Let’s see how it goes.”

 SFGN and the Washington Blade are media partners.