A significant part of EWMI’s work with civil society groups, activists, and public interest lawyers around the world includes work with LGBT communities. Recently, EWMI’s focus on LGBT issues in Southeast Asia has included several programs in Cambodia and Myanmar, and involved hundreds of participants in trainings, forums, and research projects in the community development, justice, and health sectors.
During a Cambodian LGBT Law Conference that EWMI organized in March 2014, participants called for further policy and advocacy work addressing law and health in LGBT communities. In response to this request, on November 21, 2014, EWMI’s USAID-funded Program on Rights and Justice in Cambodia (PRAJ 2) convened a roundtable in Phnom Penh of more than 50 representatives from the health, law, and LGBT communities, including more than 25 members of the MSM community, transwomen activists, and sex workers; and public interest lawyers, law students, and health equity leaders from KHANA and FHI360, as well as USAID and EWMI representatives.
The November LGBT Health & Justice Roundtable focused on the need for greater research, follow-on dissemination, and work to address the justice sector interference with members of the LGBT community – and with at-risk populations more broadly – in areas that impinge on the health of these communities, including access to health services. Specifically, the identified interference includes: police and commune government harassment and arrest of transgendered persons and MSM who meet in parks and other areas (principally in Phnom Penh and Battambang); pre-trial detention of people with HIV and AIDS who are separated from condoms, medicine, clean needles and health counseling, creating greater health risks; and the arrest of entertainment workers who possess condoms. The roundtable allowed for broader stakeholder discussion following a week of in-depth interviews with affected members of these communities from seven provinces and municipalities, and with others working in the field of health and law.