Advancing LGBTI rights in Cambodia

Contributing to advancing LGBTI rights in Cambodia by engaging with the government and lobbying the World Bank.
Cambodian Traditional Dancing

Micro Rainbow International Foundation’s work on economic empowerment and advocacy in Cambodia has led to some important achievements for LGBTI rights in the country recently. MRIF co-organised the second National Dialogue on Legal and Public Policies to Protect LGBTI people in Cambodia, engaged in the country’s third United Nations Universal Period Review and also managed to successfully lobby the World Bank for the inclusion of LGBTI people in their new Country Partnership Framework.

Second National Dialogue

On 27th June 2019, Micro Rainbow International Foundation co-organised the second national dialogue on Legal and Public Policies to Protect LGBTI in Cambodia in partnership with Cambodia Human Rights Committee (CHRC), Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK), Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC), and Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR). A total of 150 participants attended the event, including members of the LGBTI community, NGOs, private businesses and representatives of several government ministries and foreign embassies.

The second national dialogue focused on three main topics:

  • Rainbow Family, Marriage and Adoption
  • Discrimination at School and in the Workplace
  • Domestic Violence against Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender Men.

Activists lobbied the government to include LGBTI people in the draft of the new Registrar law (which provides birth, marriage and death registrations) and to implement an Action Plan in response to priority needs for the LGBTI population. The government showed support and indicated willingness to collaborate with civil society but emphasised that it may take a while, since more work is needed to raise awareness of LGBTI rights in the country.

Third Universal Period Review

In the preparation for Cambodia’s third United Nations UPR cycle, several civil society organisations, including Micro Rainbow International Foundation, made a joint submission (JS3), drawing the government’s attention to the numerous forms of discrimination that the LGBTI community face in Cambodia. The submission also recommended that Cambodia introduce an Anti-Discrimination Law, which guarantees equality and explicitly prohibits discrimination of all kinds, including on the basis of SOCIESC, in all areas of public and private life, including in employment, education and access to health care, by all private and state actors.

Cambodia’s third UPR cycle was held from 24 June to 12 July 2019 at the Forty-first session of the Human Rights Council. Unlike the previous cycle, when no recommendations were made to the Royal Government of Cambodia regarding the rights of LGBTI people, this time recommendations were made and accepted by the government, namely:

  1. Iceland:
    • Introduce an anti-discrimination law which guarantees and explicitly prohibits all kinds of discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.
    • Introduce a gender recognition law.
    • Amend the constitution to ensure marriage equality for same-sex couples.
  2. Mexico: Adopt, in consultation with civil society organisations, comprehensive legislation and policies against discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and guarantee their implementation by all public entities, in particular in the education, health and labour sectors.
  3. Netherlands: Amend Article 45 of the Constitution, to enable legal marriage equality, with a view to pursuing full equal treatment of LGBTI persons in all areas.
  4. Sweden: Introduce new legislation that guarantees equality and explicitly prohibits discrimination of LGBTI persons.
  5. Uruguay: Adopt effective measures to combat and punish discrimination and violence motivated by sexual orientation and gender identity.
  6. Australia: Introduce, by the end of 2023, an Anti-Discrimination Law which guarantees equality and explicitly prohibits discrimination of all kinds, including on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics.
  7. Canada: Amend article 45 of the Constitution to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Read the outcome document for Cambodia’s third UPR cycle.

World Bank

In November 2016, MRIF participated in a World Bank’s consultation with civil society in Cambodia and lobbied the World Bank to include LGBTI issues into their Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD). The SCD identifies key challenges and opportunities for a country to accelerate progress towards development objectives such as poverty eradication. Since then, Micro Rainbow International Foundation continued to engage with the local World Bank office and, in May 2019, the Bank launched Cambodia’s Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for the period 2019-2023. The new CPF includes LGBTI people among the vulnerable groups which continue to experience stigmatisation and discrimination in their workplaces, communities and schools.

Read Cambodia’s new Country Partnership Framework.

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