Home > Local News > Groundbreaking report looks at LGBT Cambodians

Groundbreaking report looks at LGBT Cambodians

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights released a groundbreaking report on the 9 December titled “Coming Out in the Kingdom: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in Cambodia.”
Boeng Kak sunset The Cambodian Center for Human Rights released a
groundbreaking report on the 9 December titled “Coming Out in theKingdom: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in Cambodia.”

It
says that LGBT Cambodians face unique challenges, including ostracism
from their families and communities that often leads to economic
hardship as well as discrimination by employers and authorities.

The report argues that the concept of homosexuality as understood in “the West” may not directly transfer to Cambodia.

“The
Cambodian understanding of sexuality is derived from concepts of
gender, character and personality,” it says. “The focus on these
character traits and outwardly visible characteristics instead of
sexual orientation means that many Cambodians who are homosexual do not
identify themselves as such.”

Buddhism, the report says, generally tolerates homosexuality.

“Homosexuality,
whilst seen as an oddity, does not attract the kind of aggressive
reaction as can be seen in Christian or Muslim cultures,” it states.
“Buddhism itself places no value on marriage or procreation. Marriage
and procreation are considered positive if they bring about love and respect, but may be deemed negative if pain
or strife is caused. However, in Cambodia, cultural, social and
economic pressures override Buddhist teachings on marriage — family
values are incredibly important and pressure is strong for sons and daughters to marry and have children.”

“Sexual
behavior amongst male youths may be seen as harmless experimentation,
since women are expected to remain ‘pure’ until marriage,” the report
continues. “Youthful indiscretions may be forgotten or may continue
unnoticed. However, eventually men are expected to marry and father
children. Given traditional gender roles, women have less ability to
pursue same-sex relationships than homosexual males, either privately or publicly.”

The risk
of ostracism from a close family network and economic difficulties
posed by living outside the family network may mean that LGBT persons
do not live the lives they wish to or have to conduct homosexual
relationships in secret,” the researchers conclude.

Nonetheless, an LGBT community is emerging in the nation.
A pride celebration, which includes workshops, movies, art exhibits and
social gatherings, launched in 2003. Four hundred people attended the
culmination of the events in 2009.

Pride organisers have formed an organisation called RoCK to support LGBT people and raise awareness among non-gay Cambodians.

A gay “scene” has developed in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

And
“the Internet has allowed gay Cambodian people to connect to other gay
people, thus raising awareness of a wider, global LGBT community and
the possibilities of participating in this,” the report said.

By Rex Wockner
news.PinkPaper.com
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Categories: Local News
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