The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights and LGBTIQ people yesterday called on the government to issue laws on gender recognition to provide legal documentation relating to marriage and adoption rights for the LGBTIQ community.
In a press conference to mark the launch of a new report entitled “Cambodia’s Rainbow Families” yesterday at Meta House in Phnom Penh, CCHR’s executive director Chak Sopheap said the LGBTIQ community is slowly gaining more respect in Cambodian society.
However, she said legal protection is needed for the community, including marriage, adoption and gender recognition rights.
“LGBTIQ people also want to have the same families as couples that are of the opposite sex,” she said.
“But their family life is always subject to discrimination and social exclusion. It is necessary that the government take specific legal and policy measures to ensure the community is equally accepted.”
Tang Kunhea said she has been with her partner for 32 years and has three children with her, but cannot get birth certificates or family book records because the authorities won’t recognise her family.
“We are very concerned because when we went to do the family record book, the authorities did not make it,” she said.
“They said my partner would have to be put down as my sibling, and my children as my nieces and nephews.”
“I’m worried about these legal documents, and I want the government to make a law so that the LGBTIQ community has equal rights for their children to have birth certificates with our names on as the parents,” she added.
Justice Ministry Spokesman Chin Malin said changes to laws are complicated by issues such as adoption, surrogacy and the division of assets, while the Civil Code recognises only marriages between a man and a woman.
“From my point of view, I openly support the rights of LGBTIQ people, but we have not yet been able to make a law to recognise LGBTIQ marriage,” he said.
“However, I ask our people not to discriminate against same sex couples.”
He added that the government may consider making policies or amending the laws in line with social progress in the future.
According to the government official, the country currently has more than 33,000 LGBTIQ people including about 5,000 couples who live together.