19 Dec 2013 - by A4ID

UK lawyers work to help protect LGBT rights in Cambodia

UK lawyers working through international pro bono charity Advocates for International Development (A4ID) have provided vital assistance to a Cambodian human rights charity working to provide legal protection to LGBT people in the country.

The lawyers from top City firm Linklaters conducted comparative legislative research on an entirely pro bono basis for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) which forms the basis of the organisation’s new proposals for legal reform.

While homosexuality is not illegal in Cambodia, LGBT people are not currently afforded specific protection in the law, meaning that LGBT people have less protection against discrimination in employment or public services practices. This lack of protection can put LGBT people more at risk of poverty and exclusion.

The proposals for legal change in Cambodia produced on the back of the research include:

  • Amend the Constitution to include provisions that specifically protect and promote the human rights of LGBT people.
  • Introduce an anti–‐discrimination law that refers explicitly to LGBT people, the aim being the promotion and protection of the human rights of LGBT people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Create a body in Cambodia, for example an Anti-Discrimination Committee, whose explicit remit would be to protect the human rights of all people, regardless of who they are.

Mr Theng Chamnan of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights said:

“Without legal protection that specifically protects them from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, LGBT people in developing countries are less able to access the same human rights that everyone else takes for granted.  We hope that through proper legal reform, LGBT people in Cambodia will receive greater protection and be able to play a full role in society.”

Yasmin Batliwala, Chief Executive of A4ID, said:

“London lawyers might not be the most obvious candidates to help to achieve non-discrimination against LGBT people in Cambodia, but I think we should all be pleased that it’s UK lawyers who’ve given up their time for free to support CCHR with their work in this area.”