Cambodian Prime Minister calls for public to 'better support' LGBT people

Published: December 13, 2012

There has been much talk and many emails exchanged between various groups in the last few days after the Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen called for the public to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and to stop discriminating against them.

Phnom Penh Post is an English newspaper in Cambodia. Its 12 December edition reported the Prime Minster’s speech in the following way:

“Prime Minister Hun Sen urged Cambodia to be more receptive towards homosexuality in his speech delivered a day after the gay community celebrated human rights day.

“In response to same couple demanding equal rights during Cambodia celebrations of International Human Rights Day, Hun Sen called on the public to be more tolerant of LGBT people.

‘They do not want to be this way, but they are born like that,’ the premier said during a speech given at a land titling ceremony in Keb province.”

Many campaigners thought it a big success that the Prime Mnister made this public appeal.

Mr. Kong Bunthorn, Bandnh Chakmuk Executive Committee Member, said: “I am feeling so happy when I heard Prime Minister calls for public to support LGBT in Cambodia because so far LGBT in Cambodia [has experienced] stigma and discrimination from community and local authority. And so now, on behalf LGBT community, I would like to say thank you and I believe all relevant stakeholders and other policy makers will take action following his recommendation.

“Though we love same sex we can do…works such other people and take part in developing [the] country and we are oneness of human kinds.”

However, other warned that words are not enough.

Mr. Mey Sovannara, KHANA Senior Communication Officer, said: “I think it is not all successes. I mean, action speaks louder than words. Our late King Sihanouk used to call for tolerance and compassion to TG [transgender people] and MSM [men who have sex with men]…while MSM and TG were cracked down by police on reasons of sex trafficking and exploitation or to protect the so-called ‘Cambodian culture’ or to restore the social order.

“At those times few paid attention to the King’s appeal. The greatest success we wait to see is to have the good law to protect rights and freedoms of TG and MSM including their full freedoms of expression.”

Mr. Greg Gray, KHANA’s Technical Support Hub Manager for South East Asia and Pacific, described the Prime Minster’s discussion of LGBT-related stigma and discrimination as “quite interesting”, especially given the speech’s proximity to Human Rights Day (10 December).

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