What is Cambodia ASEAN Pride Week 2012?
Cambodia Pride Week has become a regular event in the Kingdom since 2009. Before that time, Pride was first celebrated in 2004 with a Pride party in Phnom Penh. An annual Pride party continued until 2009 when a group of Cambodian and international LGBT volunteers decided to pool their energy, ideas, skills and time to make a bigger celebration of Cambodia’s fledging LGBT community.
This year, 2012, Cambodia chairs ASEAN. For this reason, Cambodia Pride Week aims to have a strong ASEAN dimension and participation. The Cambodia LGBT community has much to learn from and to share with their ASEAN LGBT communities. ASEAN chairmanship by Cambodia provides a great opportunity to harness the best lessons learned from the region to support LGBT community-building and advocacy in Cambodia and throughout those ASEAN countries where they have yet to achieve the breakthroughs which LGBT activists have achieved here in recent years.
Cambodia ASEAN Pride Week builds on the first LGBTIQ caucus held in ASEAN in Jakarta ACSC/APF 2011 and will aim to strengthen the future collaboration of LGBTIQ communities in their engagement with ASEAN and the rest of the world. RoCK has already facilitated two planning meetings among regional partners on 22-24 February and 27-28 March 2012 to develop plans for Cambodia ASEAN Week 2012.
Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK)
RoCK was founded in September 2009 after the successful and inspiring Pride Week in May 2009. A core group of LGBT activists were keen to build on the connections and momentum achieved and felt that there was much to be done to improve the lives of LGBT in the Kingdom and an annual Pride Week would not be enough. RoCK was founded with the aims of:
• Improving the lives of LGBT in Cambodia so that LGBT people feel confident to be who they are.
• Ensuring that LGBT peoples’ rights are recognized and respected by society and families and communities understand and accept LGBT people.
• Ensuring that LGBT people have a secure livelihood.
RoCK is a voluntary group of LGBT activists and is a core organiser of Pride every year. RoCK has many other activities happening throughout the year which complement and support the annual Pride Festival. These activities include:
LGBT organising in provinces around the country (in northwest, southwest, southeast, central Cambodia- not yet in the northeast- to date this has led to new young lesbian groups emerging in Siem Reap and Battambang with a surge in social networking activity which is linking young lesbians, gay and trans throughout the country).
SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) awareness-raising sessions with university students, organizations, the media, other key stakeholders.
SOGI and other training workshops for key RoCK activists around the country- including counseling skills as the network is receiving more and more contact from LGBT people suffering personal problems due to family violence or rejection upon the discovery of their relationship, violence from authorities, discrimination in work-places, feeling isolated etc.
Creating tools and spaces for LGBT people and the straight community to learn more about LGBT lives and issues- through dubbing films and documentaries into Khmer language, supporting Cambodian artists and film-makers to create work on LGBT themes.
Supporting RoCK activists to participate in regional Asian and ASEAN LGBT networks, conferences, workshops.
Supporting individual LGBT who are suffering rights violations by families, authorities, others and/or difficulties as they negotiate their coming-out.
RoCK and others form the annual Pride Committee to organize the week-long festival of LGBT in the Kingdom. Members of the committee involve those from the business community, NGOs working in related fields like MSM (health) and human rights, and other interested supporters. This year our Pride Committee also includes our regional ASEAN partners.
Goal of Cambodia ASEAN Pride Week 12-20th May 2012
To strengthen Cambodian LGBT activism and quality of life through an ASEAN Pride Week delegation joining Cambodia Pride Week to:
• Celebrate ASEAN IDAHO on 17 May (IDAHO- International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia).
• Share lessons learned from LGBT activism in ASEAN countries.
• Planning regional strategic advocacy specifically on ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights (ADHR) in relation to recognising and protecting people with different sexual orientation and identity currently in danger of being erased from the draft ADHR.
• Share skills in working with media on LGBT sensitization through a workshop with key media stakeholders, ASEAN and Cambodian LGBT activists.
• Share experiences of strengthening family acceptance of LGBT people in other ASEAN countries with particular focus on the experience of Vietnam where the first PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gay) group in Asia has begun.
• Strengthening regional solidarity.
Key activities of Cambodia ASEAN Pride Week
Art exhibition- will highlight Cambodian, ASEAN and international artwork on the theme of LGBT in three galleries in Phnom Penh- META House, Top Art gallery and K’nyay. The majority of the artists participating will be Cambodian, Vietnamese, Filipino as well as work focusing on Burma. The art exhibitions will run throughout Pride Week and beyond.
Film Festival- involves three venues- META House, Centre Culturel Francais and The Flicks. The films are largely sourced through Asia’s International Queer Film Festival held annually in Jakarta and the regional activism network. These links were established in 2009 and have strengthened year on year. Cambodian film directors attend and introduce their work and take questions afterwards. Every year at least one director from abroad also comes to introduce their films. In 2012 we hope to be able to host some international visitors from Queer Film Festival, Jakarta. The film festival aims to bring the best of Asian-made film and documentary to a Cambodian audience. Key works with a high educational or encouragement value are then dubbed into Khmer language to use in RoCK’s LGBT organizing and awareness-raising work. An example for last year which will feature dubbed into Khmer this year is Queer China, Comrade China, a documentary on LGBT activism in China with significant resonance for a Cambodian audience. The director has fully supported our dubbing into Khmer. For the first time this year, Pride will host a Short Film Competition among young Cambodian film students on the theme of LGBT in Cambodia.
Workshops- The three main workshops this year will happen 17, 18, 19 May.
– IDAHO is 17th May and we have planned our workshop on family acceptance of LGBT and coming out as LGBT to happen on this important day as these are the major struggles for LGBT everywhere in ASEAN. Our slogan this year reflects the desire of LGBT to be recognized as belonging to their families- everyone in the family is different we are still the same family.
– 18th May workshop will focus on LGBT sensitization for the media and is aimed as a follow-up to RoCK’s first awareness workshop with Cambodian media in November 2011. This workshop will share experiences of working with the media from other ASEAN countries, including language and ideas for the media to use to increase understanding of LGBT rather than perpetuating misunderstanding and discrimination.
– 19th May will focus on LGBT rights as human rights, an exploration of human rights that already exist under international human rights conventions that are not recognized observed in relation to LGBT people. In November 2006 in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, the Yogyakarta Principles were created to enable human rights advocates everywhere to activate existing human rights to protect LGBT people. The Yogyakarta Principles were developed by lawyers, human rights activists and LGBT activists and are being promoted as a practical tool in guiding policy-makers and the judiciary to understand and use Human Rights for LGBT protection. We aim to bring some of the people who created the Yogyakarta Principles and who have been using them effectively to come and share with Cambodian human rights NGOs, LGBT activists and different sectors like health, women, education and youth.
Blessing Ceremony and Community Day- Sunday 20th May will be the Community Day and will begin with a Buddhist Blessing Ceremony for our LGBT community. This was a highlight with everyone last year as it was the first time everyone, as a recognized and welcomed LGBT community, went to the pagoda and received blessings and teachings from the monks. The Community Day will continue in the pagoda with performances and games, film screenings and awareness-raising activities on how to stay safe and healthy. It is during the Community Day that the three Short Films on LGBT produced and directed by young Cambodian film students will be first screened and the winner selected by the community.
Social events- Pride Week would not be Pride without lots of parties! Traditionally, the local gay businesses organize a special Pride event and this will happen again in 2012 with extra-special events in Blue Chili bar, Rainbow bar, Pontoon, The Local bar and the Empire. MSM NGOs who have a social event dimension to their work actively participate in Pride Week and raise awareness of safe sexual health practices. These events are self-sponsored by the businesses and NGOs involved. They create more opportunities for the fun, colour and talent of Cambodia’s LGBT community to shine!
Aerobic dance- 12th -20th May would be the first public event that our LGBTIQ and their supporters are on a Public Park in front of the Botum Vatey Pagoda.
Small gathering Pride in Provinces- From 12th -14th May, Kampong Cham, Siem Reap and Battambong are targeted to celebrate the Pride 2012. Our LGBT friends will gathering and have discussion about the IDAHO and other human rights issues.
Strengthened Cambodian LGBT community through learning from and exposure to more experienced LGBT activists in other ASEAN countries.
Capacity of Cambodian LGBT activists is developed through learning and skill-sharing from ASEAN LGBT activists.
New strategies, activities, approaches, tools are shared to advance the aims of LGBT activism in Cambodia.
Increased profile of LGBT in Cambodia through LGBT community claiming their space as the Chair of ASEAN by Cambodia.
Increased awareness of Cambodia’s LGBT community needs and advocacy goals through ASEAN presence and profile.
Cambodia’s TV media, radio and print media are sensitized to LGBT through ASEAN awareness-raising workshop.
Human rights organisations, women’s sector NGOs, education sector NGOs, youth sector NGOs being more sensitized on LGBT through participation in ASEAN LGBT workshops.
Cambodia’s local arts and film community give expression to Cambodia’s LGBT lives, loves, hopes and dreams.
Numerically, Pride is growing year on year with numbers of people participating in events in Phnom Penh reaching 1,500-2000 people. Through the increasing media coverage of the events (last year CTN TV featured Pride Art Exhibition Launch) positive messages are reaching many 1000s more. Beginning last year, RoCKers are celebrating Pride in the provinces (Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey and Battambang) as not everyone can come to Phnom Penh. This year RoCKers in Sihanoukville also plan to join in celebrating Pride.