Remarks by Deputy Chief of Mission Julie Chung at a Reception for Friends of LGBTI and Speaking Out Participants

(As Prepared for Delivery)
Deputy Chief of Mission’s Residence, Phnom Penh
September 20, 2016

Good evening and welcome to my home!

I have invited you all together this evening to celebrate diversity and the efforts you all are making to ensure the rights of LGBTI individuals, and to fight discrimination.

The LGBTI community around the world have faced challenges and hardships for many years. Recently in the United States, we saw the tragic shooting at a night club in Orlando. Here in Cambodia, the LGBTI community faces discrimination that comes from their communities, families, and friends. There are legal barriers to marriage, adoption and legal recognition of gender that differs from that at birth, affecting the ability to lead a normal life for LGBTI. We also recognize health disparities in the LGBT community — gay and bisexual men and transgender women are at a particularly high risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Just this week, CCHR published a report on the concerns of transgender women.

But today we want to celebrate how you are overcoming many of these challenges, how you are champions for change, and how you are speaking out to ensure the rights of LGBTI in Cambodia. The United States Embassy supports your efforts. Programs like USAID’s LINKAGES and We are the Same project are working to empower the rights of the LBTI community. Just last week, MEDIA One launched a new radio program to exchange views and concerns of those working on behalf of LGBTI.

We are fortunate to have individuals here today who can give testimonials on how they have won the acceptance and respect of their family and neighbors, have continued their education despite all odds, and have become professionals. They have also worked hard to strengthen the National HIV/AIDS Strategy to reduce new infections, increase access to care, and improve health outcomes those living with HIV. These are inspiring stories of hope and determination.

Know that we stand with you, we admire your courage, and we will continue to advocate for your rights. As President Obama stated in his Presidential Proclamation for LGBT Pride Month this year, “we believe that all people should be treated fairly and with respect” and “we uphold the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights.” Thank you.