1. General progress
For more than 15 years there are programs to support gay and transgender man for HIV program. Lesbian and human rights have not been discussed yet. Then Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK) understands well that real need of heterosexuality people like lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Cambodia is human rights. Yet there is no strong network, no leadership and lack of communication amongst LGBT people, RoCK decided to recruit a part time staff to mobilize the resources to promote and protect human rights and LGBT rights. LGBT’s rights or human rights promotions to public have been started esp. with the gay pride week, university session, media and esp. internet and facebook.
2. What we achieved?
- Bi-monthly meeting with Morning Lesbian and Afternoon Trans at LECADHO Office and Siem Reap Lesbians group meeting regularly.
- Media lobbying is very important to aware the LGBT issues and real need. The media staff at least knows where to find the recourse persons and document for future publication (we distributed the Coming out and Yorgyakarta Principle book)
- Trip to Kampong Thom and Siem Reap to build LGBT activists and asked them for future work such Int. Human Rights day. The result Kampong Thom Trans celebrated the Int Human Rights Day with other networks and Siem Reap ride bikes with different color of T-shirt. Webblog and face book of ROCK have been created by our Lesbian activists in Siem Reap. It is for human rights and life sharing and solution making as well. We published this event on Face book and website of RoCK www.rockhmerlgbt.wordpress.com and facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/pages/RoCK_LGBT/277331785641578 and face book group http://www.facebook.com/groups/281682915205712/ “the rainbow community Kampuchea (ROCK). The pages are very active as there are many Lesbian share about their problem. We try to give advice, ideas and they share ideas to each other too. Till now we have more than 160 members just a month after it was created. Few gays are in the page now.
- Song competition in a national community which was organized by BCV in Phnom Penh and final in Rattanakiri. Our LGBT song and theme is that, we are not coming for compete for gift or awards. But we come to let everyone accept us as LGBT! We live as who we are. There are a lots of support from this event.
- Worked with OHCHR for Int. Human Rights (they support books and flyers) for the celebration. Int. Human Rights Day was conducted in PP with other NGOs (Women Network Unity) and SiemReap. In PP we launched the Gay Pride DVD 2011 and question & answer. In SR our Lesbian group rode bikes across Angkor Wat temples as well as our LGBT people celebrate with local authority support and organize by Men’s health Cambodia (MHC) in Siem Reap.
- Communicate with ASEAN Women’s Caucus of Cambodian Representative. Hope to meet them next month (December). The SILAKA organization is happy to work with us to explore gender diversity.
- Interviewed by Swedish magazine to share about LGBT life in Cambodia
- ASEAN People Forum Meeting was conducted to discuss about what Cambodian organizers should prepare for next year 2012
- Conduct courage unfold and LGBT issue sharing at PANNASASTRA University (PUC) twice. There are many students don’t understand about being gay. They thought it was from western or Thai society. However, after the forum, the professor Gary Kawaguchi firstname.lastname@example.org gave assignment to all students to measure their understanding after joining the forum. The result more than 90% of them agreed that being LGBT is nature. And they will support the LGBT community.
- Sharing Meeting with British Embassy. There are still many staff in British Embassy are not understanding being gay. However, they will invite RoCK to share again in the near future.
- There are three lesbians and one transgender (man to woman) are fit to be volunteered for ROCK. One elder lesbian, Noy Sitha, 60s in Phnom Penh. She is very active and volunteer with Srorn for three months. She travelled with Srorn to provinces and coordinate lesbian meetings well. One young lesbian in Phnom Penh who is very committed and active to involve young lesbians. She is working in garment factory. She is Bros Touch, 26. One young lesbian in Siem Reap. She is helping ROCK to celebrate Int. Human Rights, work with MSM project and also maintain RoCK facebook. She is really passionate with LGBT community. She advocates a lots with her family. One transgender is observed that she is very committed and she works as part time volunteer for WNU. She is well prepared for engaging transgender in PP to come for regular meeting. We will discuss with ROCKERs whether we selected the four to be volunteers or just two for this period.
- Working with Positive Gay and transgender. RoCK provide technical support to the positive gay and transgender group as this group is facing a lots of stigma and discrimination among their groups and other groups. This group started to have monthly meeting since November 2011.
As RoCKers in provinces is just set up, there are not clear information have been provided to the activists yet. Transgender is not easy to invite to join the RoCK regular meeting. They think externally rather than their lives.
There are many groups in different provinces keen to be involved with RoCK. According to the discussion in the RoCK face book page and other lesbian group page such love is love page (http://www.facebook.com/groups/270415499677673/) they are from different provinces and really need to guide how to build their group to be activists.
4. Unplanned achievement
- Support a lesbian in prison to sue to supreme court and find lawyer for her. OHCHR helps to pay for a lawyer for this case. More evident are finding and RoCK will work harder with accused family to help the butch (Srey Rann) to be released. RoCKERs visited Srey Rann twice now. She gets more hope after ROCK present. Before we go, she wants to suicide once (according to her mother said).
5.The ways forwards to strenthen the LGBT community and activists
- Field trip more often to visit the activists in community and provinces. Guiding the first and most important step to build strong activists
- English documents and information need to be translated as it is the most important part to let the hidden LGBT people to stand up with our activists.
- Working with other human rights and gender groups to explore the LGBT issues into their agenda.
Written by Srorn