LGBT+ Footballer Aim for Equal Rights Goal

About 50 members of the Rainbow Community Kampuchea Organization (RoCK) from Kampot, Takeo, Kandal, Kampong Chhnang, Prey Veng and Phnom Penh gathered on May 17 to show their skills and cement their friendship. Photo: Rainbow Community Kampuchea Organization (RoCK)

KAMPOT – The sky was grey but the rainbow colors of footballers brightened up the evening when LGBT+ players warmed up for a friendly match to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).



About 50 members of the Rainbow Community Kampuchea Organization (RoCK) from Kampot, Takeo, Kandal, Kampong Chhnang, Prey Veng and Phnom Penh gathered on May 17 to show their skills and cement their friendship.



The annual event is a chance for the LGBT+ community to observe IDAHOBIT, in which they come up with different activities in different provinces.



“This friendship football match is meant to show the public that the LGBT+ community is capable of playing sports and to raise awareness of the discrimination against the community while showing our situations and livelihood,” said player and co-organizer Koem Samdy.



Dressed in a bright yellow customized football strip with the “I Accept” campaign logo at the front, Samdy said she was thrilled to have seen the members come together to play and watch this significant sport.



Despite daily responsibilities and hectic schedules, the members always find a way to gather to support and learn from one another, which aligns with this year’s theme “Unity, Harmony and Equality.”



Samdy said LGBT+ individuals were often misunderstood and seen as useless. However, each individual can achieve their goal and positively contribute to society, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sexual characteristics.

Koem Samdy (second from left) and her team members during the football match. Rainbow Community Kampuchea Organization (RoCK)

Same-sex marriage remains the goal



While the community has been widely accepted, challenges remain. Societal acceptance and discrimination are still visible. Community member Kim Bun said some people refuse to accept same-sex couples.



He said a same-sex marriage law would give them legal protection like opposite-sex couples.



“We also have a family and a life, so that we will have some wealth or legacy left for our children. That’s why I think having legal documents or marriage certificates is crucial for the community,” he said.



In December 2021, The LGBT+ community launched a campaign called “I accept” to promote legal marriage and equal rights of same-sex couples.



The campaign will run until the community achieves fully legal same-sex marriage and the LGBT+ population is widely accepted by the public.

The community members gathered in Kampot to celebrate the the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). Photo: Rainbow Community Kampuchea Organization (RoCK)



In the 4th Universal Periodic Review Cycle of Cambodia held at the United Nations on May 8, many member states and the delegation from Cambodia recognized the progress to ensure equal rights for the LGBT+ community in Cambodia and pushed for step-by-step progress.



Stakeholders in Cambodia are committed to advancing LGBT+ equal rights, including legal marriage equality for same-sex couples, to ensure non-discrimination, social inclusion and sustainable development.



The community deemed this as a result of their continuous work. Their hopes are high after Thailand passed the first reading of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in April.



Same-sex weddings are legal in Cambodia but the marriages are not recognized officially. In Article 31 of the Constitution, all Cambodians have equal rights. 



“Every Khmer citizen shall be equal before the law, enjoying the same rights, freedom and fulfilling the same obligations regardless of race, color, sex, language, religious belief, political tendency, birth origin, social status, wealth or other status,” it says.



Heang Chhunsin, community organizing assistant at RoCK, said the community wanted to have same-sex marriage legalized so that members can be fully recognized and accepted, free from discrimination.



“What we really want to show the public is that we are capable and that same-sex marriage must be legalized,” he said.


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