LGBT Pride Week ‘I am what I am’

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) people all over the world continue to face many challenges such as stigma and discrimination because of their sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) at several spheres (family, school, workplace, healthcare settings, community and in society as a whole) which lead to inequities in employment, access to health services and education as well as physical, emotional violence and criminalisation. At least 76 countries in the globe criminalize consensual same sex relationship and in 7 countries the death penalty may be applied to same sex relationship. To raise awareness and promote understanding among the public on LGBT’s issues and rights and promote mobilisation and sodality of LGBT community to advocate and demand for their rights, several countries around the world celebrated a week long Pride of LGBT people called ‘Pride Week’. In Cambodia Pride Week and International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia have been celebrated since 2004 in context of HIV/AIDS awareness raising for men who have sex with men (MSM), however, starting from 2009 the celebration was evolved to become more advocacy for human rights to promote a society where has full tolerance, freedom and respect of diversity.

This year, similarly to previous years, Men’s Health Social Service together with Blue Chilly, LGBT community, civil society organisations (CSO), LGBT Community Network, UN agencies and business sector are celebrating Pride from 13-25 May with a wide range of activities which will be attended by relevant government officials, development partners, CSO, business sector. With financial support from USAID through Flagship project KHANA, Fhi360 and PSK/PSI, a joint opening for Pride Week is organizing on 25th May to mark the IDAHOT as a day against violence and oppression and to promote freedom, diversity and acceptance as well as to commemorate the decision taken by the World Health organization in 1990 to take homosexuality out of the list of mental disorders. The press conference is being organised to be attached with the joint opening ceremony to ensure the information about the events and advocacy calls are well reaching to the public through media platform.
This year IDAHOT is organized under the theme: ‘mental health and wellbeing’, drawing attention to the harmful effects that stigma, discrimination and exclusion have on LGBT people, however, the overall theme for the Pride is maintained to be ‘I AM WHAT I AM’.
I. Objectives

Gay Pride Week organize aimed to:
 Promoted and reduce stigma and discrimination among LTBGI in Cambodia
 Have positive media coverage with LGBT community voices and issues relayed including call for promoting and protecting LGBT’s rights;
 Raise awareness on LGBT issues and advocate for LGBT legal and social recognition as well as promoting equality and equity;
 Mobilize and promote ownership and harmonization, empower local champions and networking as well as dynamic momentum across different actors to support LGBT issues and protect their rights.

During the LGBT event from 20-25 May 2016, the event will be Information of Pride Week and IDAHOT as well as advocacy on LGBT issues are well covered by the media, Relevant stakeholders have well understanding on LGBT issues, LGBT community mobilized, network across different actors established to support LGBT, there will be approximately 750 from LGBTI, government institution, development partners, CSOs, community and business sectors will join this event at Blue Chilly, 2colour and Rainbow. As experience from last year, 50% of LGBTI will be knew their HIV and Syphilis status by received HTC testing during the event,5,000 of love condoms and lubricant will be demonstrate,1,350 OK condoms will be social marketed by sale representative and condom vending machine, SBC material (SBC tool, MStyle website/face book, IVR, Voice4U, finger prick flyers, will be display and introduce to participants during the event.320 of beautiful T-shirt with message of “I AM WHAT I AM” will be printed and to LGBTI who are volunteer access HTC testing “100 T-shirt under budget support from USAID- FL budget and other 100 T-shirt under AHF budget” during the pride week, MStyle program will be promoted to regional through by website of gay bars and participants who are come from Thailand China other countries . LGBT pride week 2016, will be documented as part social support in Cambodia
II- Date and Venue:
a. Date: 20th May, 2016, 6.00pm-11.00pm
b. Venue: Blue Chilly, address: 6Eo Street 178 (Preah Ang Makhak Vann) Daun Penh District
c. City: Phnom Penh

Pride Week Pics


MStyle heroes

sreyleak“I think I have something special in me…”says Au Virack or Srey Leak to his friends. He is one of the transgender who works at KDFO Club and was nominated as one of MStyle’s heroes. Srey Leak is 29 years old and lives in Preik Prang District, Khan Mencheay, Phnom Penh, one of the Club’s target areas. When the club began its orientation and information dissemination to reach out to MSM, MSM/W and transgender like him, he then decided to volunteer.

Volunteering is very rewarding job but sometimes, very difficult, said Srey Leak. He only gets $50 as monthly incentive but he said he does not complain because he loves the job. He was before a factory worker, tied up in a routine and confined within the walls of his work place. He said he felt very empty inside. He had no awareness and knowledge about health issues such as HIV/AIDS, safe sex, etc., but his world changed when he became part of MStyle. Although he receives less money compared to being a factory worker, he said that he would not trade it for anything else. He feels the significance and self-fulfilment that his present job gives to him because he educates people on HIV/AIDS, the importance of blood testing and of having safe sex, etc. He also encourages people, especially the target groups, to join and use the club’s services.

During his free time, Srey Leak would help his mother sell noodles, rice, pork, etc, to augment the family income. He said that he is lucky because his parents accepted him as he is; he did not feel that they were ashamed of him, being a transgender. He noted that his parents, friends and neighbours had appreciated his work at the MStyle club since he is helping the society. This appreciation and support greatly contributed to his positive outlook in life.

The KDFO Club team nominated Srey Leak’s as MStyle hero because of his numerous contribution to the club. His attitude is exemplary, he is not afraid to speak out and he is full of confidence. He does his job well and does not mind even if he has to work longer hours.

“MSM, MSM/W, gays and transgender should value themselves. We must think that we (transgender, MSM, MSM/W, gays), are always in the watchful eye of the people. Many people hold to that idea that we are bad and abnormal people. Thus, we have to be more careful. I agree that there are some ill-behaved MSM, transgender and gays but what saddened me is that people tend to generalize. This poses a challenge to all of us. We must prove to the society that we have abilities and we can help the country move forward” Srey Leak concluded.


Men’s Health Club (MHC)

Muth-Nearith1Mut Nearith, 37, is a happy and a proud transgender. For four years now, Nearith or Poh Lin, as he is fondly called by friends, has been working as a Community Facilitator at Men’s Health Club (MHC), one of the MStyle Clubs in Phnom Penh. Poh Lin started as one of the frontliners for the club in the community. He likes his job since he enjoys attending events sponsored by clubs and he found his task very relevant and challenging like disseminating information regarding HIV, STI, and providing advice on health-related issues or even sharing facts about how it is to be gay or transgender. He wanted to help gay people like himself because he realized that when he was growing up, there were no networks or support groups that existed like MHCs. He thought that if he is connected with a club, he would be able to reach out to more Men having sex with Men (MSM), Men having sex with Men and Women (MSM/W), gay and transgender, for them to maintain healthy lifestyles especially on practising safe sex and heightened awareness on HIV and other STIs.

Before Nearith joined MStyle, he did not know a lot of people. He was shy and prefers to keep things to himself. But now after having joined various conferences, workshops and meetings with NGOs, he now knows a lot of people and gained several friends. Working with MStyle developed his confidence which makes him proud of himself. However, Nearith has also his share of problems and challenges in life especially of being gay and poor. His parents are farmers who do not own the land they farm. Food is inadequate and sustaining his education of his three other siblings is more than his parents could afford. Poh Lin disclosed that when he was younger, his parents wanted him to marry but finally they gave up after three times of unsuccessful negotiations with the prospective bride’s family. He said that all that he had been through has honed him to become what his is right now and he is grateful for everything.


MStyle Hero – CSSD

hero04“I want to do what I love to do,” says 26 year old Kem Nirith, who lives in Boeung Tampon in Phnom Penh. Nirith graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and could have made a career in banking but, instead, chose to become an MStyle Club peer facilitator at the CSSD club. Although he does not earn much, it doesn’t matter to him because he is happy with the job he is doing. Being a peer facilitator has helped him develop his confidence in communicating with people about safe sex, HIV, STIs and other sexual health issues. Because of this ability, he has been able to encourage many people to join the MStyle clubs and support them in undergoing blood testing. Nirith joined MStyle because he knows that it helps and supports MSM, transgender and gay people; it does not discriminate against people and it is a great place to make new friends and access health information.


MStyle hero- Kanhnha

hero05This is Sa Nith’s story, “I had a boyfriend for five years and we loved each other. I gave him everything he wanted, such as clothes, a motorcycle, a mobile phone, etc. I supported his schooling and his family. Our families knew about the relationship and they did not disapprove of it. I was working in Kbal Koh, near where I lived, he stayed on his own in Phnom Penh studying. All along I trusted him and never doubted his love for me, until one day his brother gave me an invitation for my boyfriend’s wedding. By this time, he had already graduated and obtained a degree. His parents were not aware of his betrayal and, when they learned of their son’s wedding plans, they immediately came to my house and told me how sorry they were about the situation. By that point, I was already on the brink of breaking down; I wanted to kill myself because of the pain that I felt. I never thought it could happen to me because it was something I’d only seen in movies.

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