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Raising the profile of LGBT rights

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
CHRC says the government is fighting for LGBT rights. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Cambodia Human Rights Committee has defended the government’s record on LGBT rights and urged LGBT people to protect themselves from HIV.

Keo Remy, director of CHRC, said on Sunday that LGBT people should not lose hope and be depressed by discrimination.

Mr Remy, who was speaking at the ten year anniversary of rights NGO Rainbow Community Kampuchea, added that the government is attempting to add their rights into the its human rights initiatives.

“Samdech Techo Hun Sen already said that he supports LGBT people, but he highlighted the need to prevent HIV infections,” he said. “We have to talk honestly with each other about negative problems that people may have about health and lives.”

“He also said there was an increase of HIV infections within the LGBT community, especially in those under the age of 30,” he added. “We have to be careful about our own welfare.”

Mr Remy said the public, especially parents, should refrain from instilling negative stigma and infringe on the rights of LGBT people.

RoCK coordinator Pisey Ly said the government and CHRC have paid attention to the rights of LGBT people, regardless of discrimination from families and work colleagues.

“We have gained supportive environments from the government, which is a good thing for us so that we can keep going and not be depressed,” Mr Ly said. “Although discrimination has decreased, a lot of people at work still do not yet understand LGBT issues because they only recruit male or female staffers. However, our situation is making our lives too difficult.”

According to a report by CamAsean Youth’s Future, a group that also works to promote LGBT rights, there are about 6,000 LGBT couples in Cambodia.

It said that most of them are suffering from discrimination from their families, relatives and others around them.

Despite expressing support for the rights of same-sex couples, the government has yet to implement changes that would allow LGBT people to receive the same rights as straight people.

In May, RoCK urged the government to provide legal documents to LGBT people.

Ms Pisey at the time said these documents include marriage certificates, family books, and the provision of national ID cards following their sex preference and adoption.

Kheng Somarith, deputy director general in charge of the civil code at the Justice Ministry, at the time said the law has not yet allow same sex marriages because the issue takes time and requires deeper study and analysis.

Country representative for OHCHR Simon Walker said that the world today supports and promotes LGBT rights to a greater extent. Seventy-six countries have created laws to punish discrimination against LGBT people.

Despite the promotion of such rights, he had seen that some LGBT people were still subject to discrimination in the community, in hospitals and in the workplace.

“On behalf of OHCHR, we have always committed to work with civil society, organisations and the government to promote human rights, and homosexuality is also a human right,” he said.

According to the government, the country has more than 33,000 LGBT people, including about 5,000 couples who live together. However, the law still has not yet recognised the legitimacy of their marriage.

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