Forced marriages and violence at the hands of family members are just some of the traumas lesbian and bi women and trans men face in Cambodia.
One of the first ever investigations into the family violence experienced by LBT people revealed shocking statistics. It found family violence was the harshest form of violence against LBT women and trans men.
Cambodia’s leading LGBTI group, Rainbow Community Kampuchea(RoCK), found 81% of LBT people face emotional violence from family.
The study also found 10% of respondents had experienced sexual violence, usually because of forced marriages. It also revealed 35% of LBT people under 35 years old have contemplated or attempted suicide. The reasons they gave was because of their family’s negative attitude to their sexuality and/or gender identity.
‘The root cause of family violence as mentioned in the report is family members feeling ashamed, which could be from the society environment that does not understanding or fully accepting sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE),’ RoCK’s Tuy Raksmey told Gay Star News.
‘In the short run, we believe that awareness raising of SOGIE through mass media will change people’s perceptions and minds.’
Tuy added: ‘In the long run we believe that having legal change including equal marriage, gender recognition law and anti-discrimination law which will provide protection for LGBTIQ, ensure our community rights and perceived as equal as any other Cambodian citizen.’
Cambodia and LGBTI rights
Cambodia is a progressive country when it comes to LGBTI rights in Asia. Its royal family openly supports the community and it is touted as potentially the next country on the continent to legalize same-sex marriage, after Taiwan.
But Tuy said those policies needed to happen sooner rather than later to protect LGBTI people.
‘LGBTIQ are tolerated in Cambodia society however, the lack of legal recognition and protection is part of contribution to violence as well,’ Tuy said.
‘When it comes to family which is more personal, parents want to change their children. This shows family rejection is one of the major issue faced by LGBTIQ community.’