Cambodia

Here is some information about LGBT Cambodia:

The David Kato Vision & Voice Award for 2014 has gone to Cambodian transgender activist Sou Sotheavy. Now 75 years old, she has spent the last two decades working to establish a national network of organizations to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people across the country. The award provides winners with a global media platform and a $10,000 grant to support their efforts. Read more.

To see a public prezis on LGBTQ in Cambodia (pretty self-explanatory):

LGBTQ in Cambodia by Vanessa Cavallaro

More than Gender: Transgendered Males in the Cambodian Sex Industry, by Jarrett Davis

Several same-sex weddings in Cambodia are discussed in “The Hidden History of Same Sex Marriage in Asia,” a Buzzfeed article from October 2013.

Read about the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity project run by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights

January 2014: The first Cambodia National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Open Community Dialogue was held in Phnom Penh bringing together key stakeholders working on rights and health issues in the country, including development partners, civil society organizations, LGBT human rights advocates, researchers and academics.  Read the story from the Phnom Penh Post.

December 2013:  “Seila, a tall, heavily made-up woman with orange-blonde hair, said she was in a park in Siem Reap last year when policemen approached her, put a gun to her head and told her if she ran, they would shoot. Her only crime, she says, is being transgender, which in Cambodia, advocates contend, is more than enough. Legally, the Kingdom’s Constitution protects the equal rights of its citizens regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. But at an International Human Rights Day discussion yesterday, NGOs and activists say increasing anecdotal evidence shows that incidents of bigotry, harassment and abuse are commonplace….”  Read the Phnom Penh Post story. 

May 2013: Some lesbians who have lived together for years have been given recognition by village elders  Also: Laws can’t stop lovers from marrying, from Phnom Penh Post

January 2013: “The Cambodian government should do more to ensure its policies are not being misused to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, a report released by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) on Monday says. The report, based on interviews with about 300 LGBT individuals, their families, activists and local authorities and police, contends authorities tend to inappropriately target LGBT individuals when enforcing laws and policies created to maintain public order and combat sexual exploitation… Several community members CCHR interviewed said the Village Commune Safety Policy and the 2008 Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, in particular, were often used to crack down on LGBT lovers.” Read the Phnom Penh Post story.

* * * * *

From U.S. State Department Human Rights Report, 2012

Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

There were no laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct, nor was there official discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals, although some societal discrimination and stereotyping persisted, particularly in rural areas. In May several local businesses and NGOs hosted the eighth annual Phnom Penh Pride Festival, a week-long series of events that highlighted the LGBT community. The event enjoyed massive support from the local NGO community and also included LGBT representatives from neighboring countries.

There were no reports of government discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, statelessness, or access to education or health care. Consensual same-sex relationships, however, were typically treated with fear and suspicion by the general population, and there were few support groups to which cases involving discrimination could be reported. Unofficial discrimination against LGBT persons persisted; however, a local NGO reported that discrimination was on the decrease due to the LGBT community’s effectiveness in raising awareness regarding LGBT issues. On December 11, Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke out publicly against discrimination against LGBT individuals.

There were no reported incidents of violence or abuse against LGBT individuals; however, stigma or intimidation may have been a factor in preventing incidents from being reported.

* * * * *

December 2010:  “HENG Sreyleang [not her real name], a lesbian living in Battambang province, says she has no recourse to challenge her parents, who intend for her to marry a man. “[How] is it that my parents can force me to get married without society or the authorities punishing them? I want to live with the person I love,” she said in a recent interview with the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.

She said she had nowhere to turn for help after her family intervened to end her relationship. “They stopped me talking to women and my girlfriend’s family has stopped her from meeting me,” she said.

The current situation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual people in Cambodia, a new report from CCHR due to be released on December 10, finds that while discrimination based on sexual identity is widespread, the Kingdom can be especially intolerant of lesbianism. Read the Phnom Penh Post story. 

From the U.S. State Department Human Rights Report for 2010:

Cambodia:  Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

There were no laws criminalizing homosexual acts, nor was there official discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, although some societal discrimination and stereotyping persisted, particularly in rural areas. In May several local businesses and NGOs hosted the sixth annual Phnom Penh Pride festival, a week-long series of events that highlighted the LGBT community.

There were no reports of government discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, statelessness, or access to education or health care. However, homosexual conduct was typically treated with fear and suspicion, and there were few support groups where such cases could have been reported.

There were a few reports of private individuals refusing to employ or rent property to persons based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

To review the Cambodian Constitution and its statement of rights for citizens, click: Cambodian Constitution

The Kingdom of Cambodia shall recognize and respect human rights as stipulated in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human rights, the covenants and conventions related to human rights, women’s and children’s rights. 

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. 

The exercise of personal rights and freedom by any individual shall not adversely affect the rights and freedom of others. The exercise of such rights and freedom shall be in accordance with the law.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Advocating LGBT justice and equality