Pressing for LGBT rights in Cambodia

សម្រាប់ការបកប្រែជាភាសាខ្មែរនៃប្រកាសនេះសូមចុច: Cambodia LGBT Rights (Khmer)

LGBT activists in Cambodia, assisted by the United Nations and civil society organizations, are urging the government to pass legislation banning hate crimes and discrimination. What was billed as the first regional community dialogue dedicated to LGBT concerns was held in Phnom Penh January 20-21 and included more than 50 LGBT citizens discussing discriminations they have experienced. Read the story from the Phnom Penh Post.

Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK) Scott Howe, Phnom Penh Post
Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK) Scott Howe, Phnom Penh Post

“We are ordinary people too,” Nay Sitha, from  the Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK), said. “Ordinary people that need access to jobs, education and healthcare; why should we be discriminated against for how we dress or who we love?”

Unfortunately, the routes to such positive legislation to secure equality for LGBTs can sometimes be labyrinthine. In Seattle, for example, the press for such laws began in the 1970s with quick successes in the city council, where laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, public accommodations and employment quickly passed with the support of allies. In a spurt of great optimism, a bill to extend the protection throughout the state of Washington would be introduced in 1977. Almost immediately, though, Seattle LGBT activists would have to fight a backlash that sought to repeal the addition of sexual orientation to the city’s civil rights law. To do that, they would have to learn how to persuade not just a few allies in a legislative body, but an entire citizenry.  it would take almost 30 years — until 2006 — for the bill to pass. How the civil rights law finally passed is detailed in the introduction to the new paperback edition of Gay Seattle. What eventually worked was a very deliberate step-by-step strategy engaged in by a very patient — and very determined — set of advocates and legislators who knew how to build consensus bit-by-bit…starting, for example, with the desire of every parent to not have any children bullied in schools.

Watch a TV news video reviewing gay Seattle history, beginning with arrests for sodomy in 1895 and continuing through Initiative 13 in 1978 : “The History of Gay Rights in Seattle”

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