10 December is known as International Human Rights Day around the globe; especially, in countries that have committed to the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As the Constitution of the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia has incorporated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Cambodia, Cambodian people joined together on International Human Rights to celebrate their rights in public. Over the 09th and 10th of December 2014, Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their supporters gathered as a group over 130 participants, including 24 commune officials from different provinces to celebrate human rights with all activities such playing games, discussing human rights and a sunset boat cruise.
Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK) is an LGBT community and NGO has a vision for an inclusive Cambodia where Cambodian LGBT citizens live their life receiving full and equal respect, acceptance and human rights from all sectors of society, most especially families, communities and authorities.
The two day event was a great success, bringing together individuals to educate and share legal information. The event began with a laugh and a chance for couples and authorities to sing, dance and get to know each other in a safe space with Khmer traditional games. Participants were delivered two small books of the Cambodian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to analyse some important articles of the Constitution of Cambodia such as Article 31: The fundamental right of people, Article 32: Right to life and liberty, Article 35: Right to Participate, Article 36: Right to employment, Article 38: Right to dignity, Article 44: Property right and Article 45: the equal right between men and women.
All articles were discussed in detail and regarded as crucial rights for LGBT, rights that LGBT can demand in the Constitution. The commune officials and participants had a chance to contribute ideas and explanations of what rights mean to them. In the middle of all sessions, presenters organized some videos to show the participants; for instance, Mr. Pheakdey’s viedo which talked about his persona experience as a transgender gender from natural female sex to man gender. Mr. Pheakdey was married by force from his parents, and had to flee. Mr. Pheakdey bases permanently in Phnom Penh and works for RoCK to promote LGBT’s rights. His story is one among many interesting stories shared in the workshop. Participants and officials asked him many questions to find out about his love and difficulties as a transgender men.
Also, many couples who love the same sex were given the floor to share their personal stories for their daily life including their love story. The presenters invited different couples of different ages and let them perform their daily activities both good and bad as a very funny skit. The oldest couple is over 75 years old and was invited to give advice to young couples how to make their love last longer. They also talked about they suffer discrimination they suffer are discriminated they suffer in society in employment and social justice. They have found many difficulties to change gender on their national identification. Mostly, they had conflict with authorities The commune officials presented their difficulties to supporting LGBT because the laws in Cambodia discriminate in marriage and other parts of life. Most importantly, the commune officials encouraged the LGBT group to continue to push and advocate for rights recognition for the dignity, respect and protection they need as human beings. The participants called for changes to a range of laws to recognize LGBT people and eliminate discrimination.