Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - LGBT groups call for greater acceptance

LGBT groups call for greater acceptance

Members of LGBT advocacy group Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK) at a Pride event in Phnom Penh in 2013.
Members of LGBT advocacy group Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK) at a Pride event in Phnom Penh in 2013. Scott Howes

LGBT groups call for greater acceptance

The rights of LGBT people took centrestage at an event to celebrate Human Rights Day at the FCC mansion in Phnom Penh yesterday.

Organised by NGO CamAsean, which advocates on behalf of marginalised people, the morning conference included a rap performance by lesbian and transgender teenagers, and an exhibition of photos and films featuring the lives and struggles of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.

“Today is all about marginalised people,” said CamAsean facilitator Kong Yara. “We have representatives here from LGBT communities, sex workers, drug users and people living with HIV.”

Yara added that CamAsean was using the day to call on the government to make ID cards more widely available to those on the edge of society.

“Many LGBTI [intersex] and other marginalised people don’t have an ID card, which makes it very hard for them to access medical and other government services,” he said.

According to Chhoeurng Rachana of Micro Rainbow International, LGBT people face discrimination in the workplace.

“We want to see government policies which encourage the private sector to give LGBT people equal opportunities when they apply for jobs,” she said. “Gay and lesbian friends of mine have been rejected at interviews because of how they look or come across. If a woman is wearing boyish clothes for instance, employers sometimes won’t offer her the job.”

According to CamAsean project manager and lesbian Saophorn Phoeng, more needs to be done to help the LGBT community stay in school.

“Because they face prejudice from staff and other pupils, many LGBTI people drop out of school early, destroying their life chances,” she said.

“We want the government to make sure that at a provincial and district level, LGBTI people don’t experience discrimination from teachers and other public servants.”

A 26-year-old jewellery shop supervisor, who preferred not to be named, said that life for a gay Cambodian can be hard.

“I don’t have any gay friends, and when I told my best friend at school I was gay when I was 15, she told me she hated gays and never spoke to me again,” he said. “Some people can have an open life as a gay man in Cambodia, but I don’t feel strong enough.”

Nonetheless, he was upbeat about the future.

“I think the level of homophobia is coming down a little bit now,” he said. “And I hope I might be ready to come out in two or three years’ time.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Archaeologists find ancient remnant

    A team from the Apsara National Authority (ANA) has discovered a gatekeeper statue’s foot fragment at the Tonle Snguot Temple, within a metre of the toe of a statue found in 2017. ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Wednesday that the fragment was

  • Hun Sen to the rescue

    Cambodia has won praise for allowing passengers of the MS Westerdam cruise ship to dock at Preah Sihanouk port, thanks to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s humanitarian act. In a message via Twitter on Wednesday, the director-general of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu

  • EU partially withdraws EBA

    The EU Commission on Wednesday announced the partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, citing a serious and systematic violation by Cambodia of principles in the four core human and labour rights. The suspension affects one-fifth or €1 billion ($1.08 billion) of Cambodia’s annual

  • Japan calls for policy changes

    Representatives of Japanese companies and investors on Wednesday submitted a list of policy recommendations to the government concerning 21 challenges to the Kingdom’s business climate. Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami and leaders of the Japanese Business Association in Cambodia (JBAC), Japan International Cooperation Agency

  • Still no word about EBA but rice likely unaffected

    Officials on Monday said the government had not received an official statement regarding the EU’s potential withdrawal of Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. The EU launched the EBA withdrawal procedure on February 12, citing “a deterioration of democracy [and] respect for human rights”

  • Hate worse than virus, PM says

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday criticised countries that have cancelled flights with China following the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), arguing that such moves amounted to discrimination against the Chinese. In a speech delivered during the groundbreaking ceremony for work on national roads 2