Government officials and members of the LGBT community met on Thursday to discuss the drafting or revision of laws and policies in order to facilitate their rights.
The meeting was held during a dialogue on “Legal and Public Policies to Protect LGBTIQ People in Cambodia”, held in Phnom Penh.
Ly Pisey, coordinator of Rainbow Community Kampuchea, said discrimination against LGBT people has decreased because the government has paid attention to support and promote their rights.
However, Ms Pisey noted that members of the gay community want more legal protection through public policy.
She said the LGBT community wants national identity cards to list their preferred gender and access to marriage certificates, family books, residential books and the legalisation of adoption for same-sex couples.
Sorm Som, a transgender female, said these things are important because they provide legal protection.
“I want a marriage certificate and family book to prove that we are husband and wife like normal people, but it’s impossible. Only siblings can be listed in my family book,” Ms Som said. “I would like to ask the government to help us be able to have [proper] marriage certificates, family books and birth certificates for my adopted children, just like normal people.”
Keo Remy, head of the Cambodia Human Rights Committee, said the government supports LGBT people, and that current policies and laws do not infringe upon gay rights.
However, he noted that the Kingdom may not yet be ready for LGBT laws.
“Government policies do not discriminate against LGBT people, we can act freely and harmoniously,” Mr Remy said. “However, we have to be good citizens so we won’t be perceived by others as those who cause trouble.”
“All stakeholders have to fight against LGBT discrimination – do not cause violence in the family over those who want to change gender, do not evict children from homes,” he added. “There is already government policy that does not discriminate against LGBT people.”
“When a society has support and community recognition without disagreement, then legislators will make those laws, they just need more time,” Mr Remy said.
Gary Anderson, deputy chief of mission from the US embassy, during a pride month celebration on Wednesday said the gay community must be free to enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association without fear of reprisal.
“As Americans, we place a high value on these rights and freedoms, which all persons deserve to enjoy fully and equally,” Mr Anderson said.
Vladanka Andreeva, country director for The Joint UN Programme on HIV/Aids, said discrimination or exclusion of LGBT people from the family and society also has economic effects.