Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Seven Questions




Seven Questions

Seven Questions

The Kingdom’s annual Pride originated with an evening party in 2004, but since 2009 has become a week-long celebration of diversity, respect and unity. Besides extending the length of the party, organisers Rainbow Community Kampuchea and Cambodian Pride Committee have broadened the focus to include greater participation of lesbians, and added film and art festivals as well as a Buddhist blessing ceremony. 7Days asked RoCK organiser Srorn Srun for a peek at what’s in store at this year’s event, which kicks off on May 12.

Is this the first ASEAN Pride week?
Yes, this is the first time in Cambodia that we will involve our ASEAN LGBTIQ friends and hopefully some friends from other Asian countries like China, India and Korea. There was a caucus in Jakarta last year for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals that aimed to strengthen dialogue within Southeast Asia and link groups here with those globally.

Can you tell us what else is new this year?
We’ll be livelier, brighter and a bit bigger. The film screenings are expanding to three venues and three galleries will be showing art from around the region. We’ve also dubbed a documentary about LGBT activism in China – Queer China, Comrade China – into Khmer. We think this will have a lot of resonance here. We’re also adding more advocacy workshops including one in which we discuss how to better work with the media.

Is there a lot of misinformation in the media?
Sure, even in the Phnom Penh Post. There was a very misleading article about Cambodian lesbians in Lift a few months ago. The Khmer-language version was a bit hysterical. On CTN TV, there was comedy group who very negatively portrayed transgender men to women. They introduced small boys behaving like girls, but they ended the comedy show with the three transgender people changing to straight men. They married women and had children, as though [the producers] thought being transgendered was not natural. They advised the audience to stop behaving like transgendered people or they would reduce human resources.

Can you tell us a bit about RoCK?
RoCK is a voluntary group of LGBT activists and is a core organiser of Pride. It has many other activities throughout the year, which complement and support the annual Pride Festival. RoCK was founded in September 2009 after a very inspiring and successful Pride Week. We decided to extend our activities beyond the capital. We’re a grassroots advocacy group that supports LGBT people around the country. We also conduct awareness raising campaigns at universities and assist individuals and families whose rights are violated.

Last year saw the first Buddhist blessing ceremony. Are you looking forward to repeating it this year?
The blessing ceremony kicks off our community day on Sunday, May 20. We go to a pagoda and receive blessings from monks, LGBT people, their families, friends and other supporters. Last year it resonated very deeply. One of the monks reminded everyone that they were who they were born to be. It was a  very powerful message. It’s definitely a message worth repeating, for all people.

And the parties?
The number of bars and nightclubs hosting parties is expanding. Besides Blue Chili, Rainbow Bar and Pontoon, more businesses are joining, including  The Local bar and the Empire. NGOs who work on HIV/AIDS issues with men who have sex with men will also be holding events.

Anything else you are aiming for?
May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia so that will be the advocacy peak. We’ll also be working with groups from other countries to map out a regional advocacy strategy on ensuring the ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights recognises and protects people of different sexual orientation and identity. This protection is in danger of being erased from the draft.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from