Timely warning over gay rights

The gay community in Cambodia continues to suffer discrimination in every aspect of life, activists have warned, despite speedy progress being made around the world.

Events are being held across Phnom Penh in support of Gay Pride week, which runs until Monday.

But members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer community say they are suffering within their families, at schools and in wider society, while Cambodia still has no law recognising those who undergo sex-change surgery.

LGBT activist Long Malen told an advocacy event in Tonle Bassac that local authorities did not even acknowledge the existence of his community when issuing some legal documents, such as national identity cards, passports, marriage licences, poverty letters, family record books and property titles.

Teng Kunthy, chairman of a working group on men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people, also expressed concern over the rate of HIV infection among some groups.

He said it stood at 2.3 per cent for MSM and 5.9% for transgender people, compared with the 0.6% in the general population aged 15 to 49.

The government’s record in tackling LGBT issues was defended by Kata Uon, Secretary of State of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee.

He told the event the government had tried to promote human rights and eliminate discrimination against LGBT people.

He said, “The government has in no way limited its support for the rights of LGBT people. It has promoted and encouraged the belief that all people are equal.”

The country is estimated to have more than 33,000 LGBT people, including about 5,000 LGBT couples who live together.

In tomorrow’s edition, Khmer Times will run a major  feature on LGBT issues.

by Pech Sotheary
Source – Khmer Times