Members of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Cambodia are often misunderstood, mistreated, threatened and have their human rights violated. Those from rural areas are often more victimized and isolated than those in urban areas. Few safe places or systems exist where members of the LGBT community can get the information that they need on what their rights are, or on how they can advocate for them. No laws exist to protect them or ensure that they are treated the same as other human beings.
- The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Project seeks to help LGBT people to overcome these difficulties through:
- Networking – Supporting informal LGBT networks, individuals, communities, human rights defenders, Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), Sector-Based Organizations (SBOs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), private sector associations, and other beneficiaries seeking to improve respect for LGBT rights.
- Empowering – Empowering these networks, individuals and organizations through capacity-building and the transfer of skills and knowledge, to work to improve respect for LGBT rights throughout Cambodia.
- Advocating – Improving respect for LGBT rights through research and analysis of the current status of LGBT rights in Cambodia, and through advocacy for the realization of these rights.
The SOGI Project’s main objective is to improve respect for and understanding of LGBT rights in Cambodia in order to lessen the violence, discrimination and human rights abuses that LGBT people suffer on a daily basis throughout Cambodia. How?
CCHR aims to achieve the SOGI Project’s overarching objectives by developing a knowledge and support network that spans Cambodia, involving individuals, communities, NGOs, SBOs, the private sector and the media. Through the transfer of knowledge and skills CCHR aims to empower the LGBT community and encourage them to advocate for their rights. CCHR believes a grassroots approach is the best way to ensure sustainability and as a result, this is what the SOGI Project does. CCHR hopes for an improvement in the respect for LGBT rights in Cambodia in the near future and in the manner in which the SOGI Project envisages.
Another key aspect of the SOGI Project is to raise awareness of, and provide information about, human rights in general. To this effect, CCHR has facilitated training for members of the LGBT community, and will continue to do so. CCHR also regularly meets and conducts joint activities with organizations and networks such as Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK), Women’s Network for Unity (WNU),CamASEAN Youth’s Future, Cambodian People Living with HIV/AIDS Network (CPN+), KANHNHA, Cambodian Network for Men Women Development (CNMWD), Men’s Health Social Services, Men Health Cambodia (MHC), Community United for Development (CUD), and other groups of lesbians and gays.
Mapping of the LGBT community in Cambodia is a key aspect of the SOGI project. To date, the issues and needs of the LGBT population in Cambodia have been partially identified in relation to social exclusion, networking opportunities, empowerment, advocacy and access to facilities and support services including health, education, and community development.
In 2010, CCHR released a research report entitled “Coming Out in the Kingdom: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in Cambodia
”. The report analyzed the existing environment (including cultural and social views, religious and political views), instances of violence, discrimination and human rights abuses, the legal framework and developments in the LGBT movement in Cambodia. In 2012, a subsequent report entitled “Rainbow Khmer: From Prejudice to Pride
” was released, further detailing the struggles of the LGBT community in Cambodia but also went some way in to discussing how discrimination could be reduced through legislation. Both reports seek to raise awareness of LGBT rights in Cambodia. Who?
CCHR has met with Target Beneficiaries in Phnom Penh and eleven other provinces including Kandal, Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Battambang, Pursat, Kampong Chhnang, Takeo, Kampong Speu Kampong Cham, Preah Vihear and Sihanoukville in order to identify and map them as “Network Participants”. CCHR has also been gathering information as part of a research and analysis project regarding the current situation of LGBT communities and their needs. CCHR continually shares its findings with RoCK, WNU and Pannasastra University. Additionally; CCHR has developed a relationship with Pannasastra University in Phnom Penh and has made attempts to mainstream education on LGBT rights in Cambodia by providing education directly to university students. This initiative is the first of its kind in Cambodia. CCHR has also supported Gay Pride Weeks in the Kingdom since 2011, providing funding and support but also holding supplementary events like film screenings and workshops.
Finally, as part of the SOGI project, CCHR has created an LGBT Rights Network Directory of Target Beneficiaries and the Rainbow Khmer web Portal
where resources to support them can be easily accessed. This network will continue to be expanded in the coming years as CCHR furthers the scope of its research.