Rainbow in the rain: The LGBTI community in Cambodia in the pursuit of freedom and equality


This publication is commissioned by ILGA Asia – the Asian Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, representing more than 170 LGBTI
organizations in East, South, Southeast, and West Asia.
The document has been produced in consultation with member organisations and key partners as suggested by member organisations in the country. Permission to quote or otherwise use the information has been provided by the informants.
The analysis in the report is intended to recommend ILGA Asia to produce a strategic plan for 2021-2025. Positions in the report lie with the participants of the consultations and
interviews, and do not reflect the values and viewpoints of the collective network.


This study discusses the current social context of Cambodia and how it affects LGBTIQ people. While, there is a growing acceptance, especially from urban societies, there is a limited understanding of sexual orientation and gender identities and a general preference
to heteronormative identities resulting in stigma and discrimination towards LGBTIQ people. This notion also leads to a negative notion about LGBTIQ people in their role as a family member. The engagement on LGBTIQ issues in the public is also very limited even from the LGBTIQ politicians who occupy high positions in the public sector.
The study shows the current challenges that LGBTIQ people face in Cambodia. It discusses issues of non-recognition non- heteronormative marital relations, discrimination in the employment sector and the need for ‘explicit’ protection in the law to counter the same, health issues like high anxiety and depression among LGBTIQ population exacerbated by family violence resulting from SOGIESC issues, HIV transmission and limited services of hormone therapy, and bullying and discrimination faced by LGBTIQ students in schools  from teachers and fellow students.
In Media, LGBTIQ people are not portrayed positively which perpetuates discrimination against them. Negative notions about LGBTI people arising from the Cambodian culture
continue to dominate the media narrative.
LGBTI people still cannot officially claim their identities on their ID card or obtain legal documents to show their relationships with their partner, for marriage, or adoption.
Negative attitudes of government officials and non-implementation of LGBTI-friendly policies also create further challenges.

Keeping the above-mentioned challenges in mind, the study suggests the following key priorities:

  • Using technology and social media to continuously mobilize LGBTI people.
  • Increasing awareness through SOGIESC and human rights workshops, training, tools, materials and integration of SOGIESC issues in education curriculum will aid in increasing acceptance of LGBTI people.
  • Creating possibilities of future interventions to address causes of discrimination in the employment sector along with exploring options of microfinancing to help LGBTI people engage in self-employment opportunities.
  • To address, inadequate health care provisions for LGBTI people, gender affirming policies, access to healthcare, and free provisions of condoms and counselling to prevent HIV transmission should be prioritized.
  • Existing LGBTI civil society organisations can work as a role model for upcoming organisations and help them with capacity building, technical support, and
  • Increase in the number of youths, civil society organisations, greater acceptance in private sector, increasing engagement on UPR, and the ever-increasing efforts of the LGBTI community are some opportunities which can help the LGBTI people and
    the civil society organisations working on the issues of these people to help face these challenges in the future.




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