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Push for LGBT rights in declaration

A prominent rights group called on the government yesterday to leverage its ASEAN chairmanship to include provisions in the ASEAN human rights declaration that would protect LGBT people in ASEAN member countries.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia could . . . help LGBT people [by using] Cambodia’s position as chair of ASEAN to encourage reform across the region, lobbying for the inclusion of provisions protecting the human rights of LGBT people in the draft ASEAN human rights declaration that is currently being discussed and finalised,” the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights said in a statement issued yesterday.

Although “social understanding” and “tolerance” towards LGBT people in the Kingdom was improving, they still faced significant challenges such as discrimination, Hem Sokly, the co-ordinator of CCHR’s Sexual Identity and Gender Identity project, said.

“Most LGBT people in Cambodia, when they come out . . . are excluded by their family and society because Cambodian society doesn’t recognise the LGBT population,” he said.

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights met in Siem Reap two weekends ago to discuss a draft declaration on human rights.

In a statement issued on January 5, Amnesty International said it was “disappointed by the secrecy surrounding the drafting process so far”.

Om Yentieng, President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee and Cambodia’s representative to the ASEAN Commission for Human Rights, declined to discuss the possibility of including LGBT-specific provisions in the human rights declaration.

The CCHR statement also called on the government to enact anti-discrimination legislation of its own to protect LGBT individuals.

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