In recent years, the issue of violence and discrimination against members of the LGBT community has become a critical concern worldwide. In Cambodia, despite a lack of data, the United Nations has taken notice of this issue and is working to address it. During a recent 10-day visit to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Battambang, the UN’s independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, met with state representatives, civil society organizations, and over 100 members of the LGBT community to gather information on their experiences.
Mr. Madrigal-Borloz reported that, “Without exception, State agents with whom I held conversations acknowledged that diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity was a trait inherent to humankind, and that all Cambodian citizens, including members of the LGBT community, were valued members of society who have the right to live in freedom and equality.” He also noted that the lack of data on the challenges facing the LGBT community in Cambodia presents great challenges in addressing them. To address this information shortfall, he recommended adopting a series of measures, including more surveys and data collection, and emphasized the importance of full participation from concerned communities and civil society organizations.
Despite the challenges, Mr. Madrigal-Borloz concluded that violence and discrimination against the LGBT community in Cambodia originates in the family sphere and spills over into other areas of life, including school, the workplace, and access to health services. He recommended that the state make swift progress on the recognition of LGBT families through the legal recognition of same-sex marriage, the legal recognition of gender identity, and the adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation.
In the end, the UN’s call to action for the recognition of LGBT families in Cambodia is a critical step towards creating a more inclusive and equal society for all. As Mr. Madrigal-Borloz stated, “I encourage the State to make swift progress on this agenda, advanced by Cambodian communities with clear point of reference in the realities of their lives and needs.”