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On Labor Day, Cambodian human rights NGO calls for end of LGBT discrimination at work

Cambodian Center for Human Rights says workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity must be against the law
A Cambodian Center of Human Rights LGBT project

A Cambodian human rights NGO is using today's International Labor Day (1 May) to call on the government and public and private sector companies to end workplace discrimination against LGBT people.

The Cambodian constitution guarantees rights to equality and non-discrimination, but despite of this 'LGBT people frequently face exclusion, harassment, name calling (for example "Kteuy") and bullying in the workplace leading to depression and economic hardships,' said the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) in a statement.

A gay man reported to the CCHR that when he was open about his sexual orientation at work, the bullying was so severe that he was forced to leave his job. A lesbian woman said that she wished to dress in a more masculine way but didn't because she feared she wouldn't get a job. Transgender women and men have reported that they have been turned down for jobs they were over qualified for because of their appearance.

'Some people become sex workers because they have no choice. "We have no choice because nobody wants to hire us because of our appearance. We have to sell sex, or we will die" a transgender told me,' said CCHR sexual orientation and gender identity project co-ordinator Hem Sokly.

The Cambodian government regularly meet with CCHR over various issues so there is hope they will hear the proposals. However, the government has said before that they need to think about the development of their agriculture-dependent economy before protecting the rights of sexual minorities.

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