On 7th March 2018 Micro Rainbow International collaborated with LGBTI NGOs in Cambodia to organise a public exhibition. The exhibition raised awareness about LGBTI issues and about MRI’s poverty reduction programme. The event took place at the Cambodia Japan Cooperation Centre (CJCC).
Cambodia is a country that heavily discriminates against women and LBTI women. Despite this, the event attracted over 250 participants, who were not afraid to speak out for better rights. There were many visitors sharing about LGBTI issues and raising awareness on social media.
LGBTI discrimination in Cambodia
Social exclusion and negative treatment of LGBTI people by their families remain big issues in Cambodia. Such treatment include:
- forced marriages
- family rejection
- domestic and sexual violence
- unemployment and discrimination in the workplace
- and bullying in school .
LGBTI bullying in schools by peers and economic hardship from family rejection result in higher dropout rates among LGBTI students. Consequently, LGBTI people have limited education and skills, and fewer job opportunities. Because of discrimination, LGBTI Cambodians do not feel comfortable being open about their sexual orientation in the workplace. So far, little work has been done to raise sexual orientation and gender identity and expression issues among employers. Transgender people are frequently harassed because of their appearance, especially those who make their livelihood as entertainment or sex workers.
Stigma and discrimination in the health and employment sectors continue to exist. Transgender people require attention to additional health issues. Such issues include gender-affirmation surgery, hormone therapy and the use of medications for gender transition. There are no existing specialized health services, and there is also a lack of mental health services for LGBTI people. In employment, issues such as non-discrimination in the workplace and poverty reduction of LGBTI, are not being addressed.
In general, Cambodia’s media portrays LGBTI people in a negative way, particularly transgender women. Domestic and sexual violence experienced by LGBTI people, including violence perpetrated by family members, is high. Therefore, self-stigma among young gay men and young transgender females is also exceptionally high.
In conclusion, events like this public exhibition are crucial to create new and positive narratives around sexuality and gender identity. They challenge the negative stereotypes associated with being LGBTI and as a result they contribute to changing social attitudes.