8 in 10 Cambodian queer women and trans men emotionally abused by family


81 percent of queer women and transgender under 35 in Cambodia have suffered emotional abuse by a family member, a study by Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK) has found.

The organisation interviewed sixty-one LBGT+ people (23 lesbian women, 4 bisexual women and 34 trans men), as well as three parents of LBGT+ people, eight state officials, three UN staff members, three academics and three NGO staff members.

51 percent of the queer women and trans men surveyed were under 35 years old, and of all participants 56 percent had suffered emotional violence by their families.

The violence reported by victims in the study at the hands of family members includes both physical and emotional violence, including having their liberty taken away, being completely disowned, physical beatings and forced marriages.

Two young men in Cambodia

35 percent of participants under the age of 35 had considered suicide because of their family’s rejection of their sexuality or gender identity. (TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty)

One participant in the study was forced into rehab to “fix his gender”

One of the experiences quoted in the report is of Sam, a 27-year-old trans man.

He said: “My mother always said horribly harsh things to me, such as ‘if I knew that you would become like this, I would have killed you when you were born.'”

He was forced by his mother into a drug rehabilitation centre for the purpose of “fixing his gender,” but managed to run away after three months.

The study also found that 35 percent of participants under the age of 35 had considered suicide “due to their family’s denial of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.”

According to the report, the Cambodian population is approximately 90 percent Buddhist, and 10 percent Christian, Muslim and other religions.

Coordinator of RoCK Ly Pisey said: “RoCK strongly requests government officials, national and international organisations, academic institutions, and development partners to continue to advocate for the rights of LBT people so that they can live free from prejudice, discrimination and violence.”