Miss. ChhinRatha, student at Rule: “For me, it is normal for a woman to love another woman, because everyone is born with different ideas, thoughts and behaviours.”
Mr. Long Sinat, student at Rupp: “ The human nature law stated that a female must be the partner of a male.”
Mrs. Srey Oun, 30, Kandal province: “I absolutely disagree if my daughter were to have relations with someone of the same sex because it against Khmer tradition. Women having sex with women don’t have sexual passion.”
Mrs. HorSokna, 50, Svay Rieng province: “ There is no bright future for women who love women. There are no children to inherit the family in the future.”
Differing thoughts on same sex relationships exist within Cambodian society, although the majority still sway towards disapproval. Same-sex marriages are not officially recognized in Cambodia and lesbians in particular, are perceived more negatively by the society. In general, most think that there are no women who have sex with other women in the society. If so, there must be very little.
“They incited Chhing Thi not to marry me as we have the same sex,” Ms. Soksopheap, 27, said.
She has been married to parner, Ms. Chhing Thi, 26, for 5 years and live with their adopted child in Kandal province, Cambodia.
“After our wedding, some people said that wedding between a woman and another woman cannot have a good future,”Chhing Thi said.
Organization like Ramboo Organization Community of Kampuchea (Rock) is working to give homosexuals their rights. First, they aim to encourage people who love the same sex to not to be shy and to open up to society. Second, they aim to to encourage parents, friends, and relative of homosexuals to stop the discrimination and accept them by broadcast through television, radio, newspaper and magazine. It is the message to show them that it is normal for people to be with another of the same sex. The third to implement the law equally.
“In general, our project is implemented to support lesbians ‘right. If they have a problem or encounter some challenges, our duty is to find supporters to help them. We want to raise awareness to society. Even if we are lesbians or gays, we have the right to respect Buddhism. As we see, Buddhism open widely and especially about human rights, ” SronSrun, a facilitator at rock said.
Similarly Mr Sron Srun Hem Sokly, CCHR’s project coordinator Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Project expresses that the right of lesbians are not fully accepted in Cambodian society nowadays.
He said that “Nowadays, because of pressure from family and the whole society, lesbian cannot be actively involved in society such as politics, economic, culture, and national development. Regarding this law, CCHR always proposes to the Royal government and related partners to draft the law called Law Against Discrimination. The proposed law is to protect the rights of someone who love the same sex.”
Despite criticism from various people in Cambodian society, Sok Sopheap’s parents and father-in-law are optimistic and are not angry with their daughters and feel it is up to them.
“Sopheap has already been living with her partner before she showed her to me and said, ‘Mom this is my friend,’” Mrs. Mom Men, Sopheap’s mother explained.
Mr. Chhing Kean, ChhingThim’s father, is accepting of his daughter’s relationship, “As long as they love each other; man or woman, I don’t care. They married each other traditionally and they love each other.”