LGBT advocates meeting in conference in Phnom Penh have urged changes and clarifications in several laws in order to offer more protection to LGBT students, allow same-sex marriage, and prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia (1993), Article 31, guarantees equal rights to all citizens regardless of personal characteristics, stating: “Every Khmer citizen shall be equal before the law, enjoying the same rights, freedom and fulfilling the same obligations regardless of race, color, sex, language, religious belief, political tendency, birth origin, social status, wealth or other status.”
However the Constitution also needs to be supplemented by other laws and interpretations of laws, called “prakas” in Cambodia.
The proposed law to prevent non-discrimination reads: “Sexual orientation and gender identity shall not be discriminated against under the law of Cambodia.”
Advocates say a praka, is also needed to insure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students are not refused educational services simply because of the type of school uniform they choose to wear.Conference participants unanimously adopted the following proposed draft language for a Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport praka: “No students shall be denied of education services on ground of sexual orientation and gender identity and choice of uniform”. Read more.
Cambodia, in its new civil code implemented in 2011, has removed prohibitions on same-sex marriage, much as Vietnam did this past fall. To make further clarifications, participants at the conference proposed changes that would remove the words “man and woman” from the Civil Code section defining “engagements” and replace those words with “two persons.” View the powerpoint developed at the conference: Cambodia Marriage
A story in the Phnom Penh Post about the first day of the conference: “LGBT Rights Battle Ongoing”
A story in the Cambodia Daily News about the first day of the conference: “Discussions Center on Equalizing Cambodia’s LGBT Rights”
Further background on the conference from its organizer, East-West Management Institute.