Cambodian LGBT organization CamASEAN organized a multi-day workshop in Phnom Penh to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) in collaboration with Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK), Bandahh Chatomok, and EWMI grantee, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR). The event was held from May 11th – May 18th, which is a significant date as it celebrates the day that the World Health Organization took homosexuality off the list of psychological diseases. The week of events aimed to provide the LGBT community with the opportunity to meet, exchange experiences and challenges, and to learn about LGBT rights and issues. Some of the events included issue-based workshops, films to raise awareness, solidarity meetings, and other network building activities. Hundreds of people participated in the events, including students, artists, media, local and international NGOs, and UN agencies, as well as LGBT individuals, allies, and family members. To provide support for the week of events, EWMI provided funding for t-shirts, hats, and travel expenses for hosts and participants.
Through the celebration of pride in the LGBT identity, the voices of the LGBT community were heard in Cambodia. The events promoted their rights to live and work in society with equal rights, and presenters trained participants to advocate for their rights with local authorities and governmental organizations. Advocacy for LGBT legal and policy support is important for reducing stigma and discrimination and providing future opportunities.
EWMI also had the opportunity to attend one of the Legal Rights Workshops. The leaders of the workshop explained to participants from several different regions of Cambodia that LGBT rights are human rights. Presenters encouraged participants to let police, employers and others know that people who identify as LGBT are protected by the laws of Cambodia. The presenters then invited audience members to participate in role-play demonstrations to practice exercising some of these rights. These demonstrations covered topics such as forced marriage of LGBT family members.
This year’s events were particularly unique because it was one of the first times in Cambodian history where different types of LGBT groups came together for one event.