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

  • Former opposition leader tells soldiers, Cambodians to unite to fight CPP

    Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) President Sam Rainsy has called for a popular uprising after the July 29 national elections to force a change of government. He called on the armed forces and people to stand united to fight the ruling Cambodian People’s Party-led

  • Police warn boycott FB group involved in the “Clean Fingers Campaign”

    Police said on Tuesday that they will pick up members of a Facebook group involved in the “Clean Fingers Campaign” that promotes a boycott of next month’s national elections. However, police merely planned to “educate” the group for now, but warned that if the

  • Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter

    After being hit with sanctions from the US Department of Treasury, Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang said he would retaliate against any US national who does not respect his country’s sovereignty, has ambitions to invade Cambodia or incites “traitors” in the Kingdom to do

  • Court told to act against former opposition leader for insulting King

    Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana has ordered the Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor to begin legal proceedings against the Cambodia National Rescue Movement (CNRM) president, Sam Rainsy, for “insulting” the King, Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin told The Post. The “insult” was determined after