Continuing the Progress towards Achieving Marriage Equality in Cambodia

By June 20, 2024 Regional

Contributor: LY Pisey
Rainbow Community Kampuchea Organisation (RoCK), Cambodia 

Since launching the “ខ្ញុំទទួលយក – I Accept” marriage equality Campaign in 2021, we have continued making progress step by step by building more public awareness and acceptance of LGBT+ persons, and growing support from many sectors of society for realising legal marriage equality for LGBT+ couples in Cambodia. The obtention of legal marriage equality has been continuously prioritised by Cambodian LGBT+ community members to protect their equal rights, including equal protections for their families, and as a key measure protecting from discrimination and contributing to social inclusion in Cambodia. “We love each other and live with happiness and harmony, but there are no marriage and family protection laws for us. We would like to request the government for us to be able to have marriage certificate soon.” LGBT+ couple in Oddor Meanchey province.

Cambodia made a lot of progress towards LGBT+ equality in the last 10 years, with an increase in the visibility of LGBT+ communities and improvement in public awareness and acceptance of LGBT+ people. Supportive public remarks by senior Cambodian Government officials also contributed to this progress. 

RoCK and civil society partners have convened regular and ongoing dialogues with the Cambodian Government for continuing to progress towards the legal protection of marriage equality, in line with the accepted 3rd cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations, and as also recommended by the UN Independent Expert on protection from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The dialogues held in 2021 and 2023 allowed LGBT+ communities, parents, local authorities and national government representatives to openly share stories, challenges, and possible  pathways for enabling legal marriage for same-sex couples and equal protection for LGBT+ families, and continue making progress through concrete action steps. 

Notably ahead of the upcoming 4th cycle UPR of Cambodia, we have reiterated the importance of working with all stakeholders to continue progressing on advancing on legal marriage equality for same-sex couples to guarantee non-discrimination, full equality and social inclusion of LGBT+ persons in Cambodia, in line with achieving the sustainable development goal principle of “leaving no one behind” in an inclusive and harmonious Cambodian society. 

The “ខ្ញុំទទួលយក – I Accept” Campaign has also continued to raise more public awareness and support for marriage equality notably through social media contents sharing the stories of rainbow couples and their supportive families, working with the media for increasing positive coverage on legal marriage equality and LGBT+ families and cultural arts events across Cambodia

LGBT+ communities, families and friends in Cambodia are so inspired to see Thailand our neighboring country now set to become the first country in South-East Asia to recognise marriage equality, joining the 37 countries that have already recognised marriage equality across the world. Thailand and Cambodia have a lot of common in terms of culture, religion and society as open, tolerance and harmony, and government committed on LGBT+ equality. We could learn from one another to continue making positive development, and we are optimistic that the Kingdom of Cambodia could be the next country in South-East Asia to recognise legal marriage equality. Our hope comes from our commitment, persistence and resilience, and with the progress achieved thus far with the ongoing and proactive dialogues, cooperation with and support from key stakeholders.   

About the contributor:

Pisey LY, a co-founder and Coordinator of RoCK, identified as a lesbian and feminist. Before joining RoCK, Pisey worked with some women’s rights and feminist organisations, directly with grassroots and marginalised communities. Pisey together with RoCK staff team and about 3000 LGBT+ community members continue working pro-actively to advance our vision for a just, equal and equitable Cambodia where LGBT+ Cambodian citizens live full and meaningful lives, are embraced by their families, communities, and government officials, and by all sectors of society with acceptance, dignity, and respect.

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