Mourng Kagna, Gender and Inclusive Development Specialist, USAID/Cambodia
Vinich Virak, Technical Advisor, EpiC Cambodia

In celebration of Pride month, USAID’s Gender and Inclusive Development Dialogue (GIDD) and FHI 360[i] organized a Pride event on Monday, June 26, 2023 at Factory Phnom Penh on the theme of “Campaign and Dialogue on Preventing and Responding to online violence towards LGBTQI+ individuals”. The remarks by the USAID Mission Director, Kerry Pelzman, emphasized support for Cambodia’s LGBTQI+ community and the values of Pride: empathy, acceptance, and inclusivity. The campaign panel discussion with LGBTQI+ advocates and influencers included a conversation on the roles and responsibilities the Cambodian community has to stop online violence. By monitoring online presence, reporting online harassment, collecting evidence, reporting cases to local authorities, reporting inappropriate or fake content on social media, and stopping the sharing and interactions with fake, harmful information, Cambodians can help curb online harassment and promote LGBTQI+ rights.

These actions can build a safe, supportive, and understanding environment for LGBTQI+ community members regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Once the dialogue concluded, participating organizations presented artwork, exhibitions, and performances to raise awareness on preventing and responding to online violence. Felix Sea, a singer, songwriter, and influencer, performed the song “I Am Me and More” on stage, delivering a message about self-love, self-acceptance, and pride. The youth theater from Phare Ponleu Selpak performed a live story about Cambodian LGBTQI+ issues, respecting gender identity, and building atmospheres of support and understanding among families and extended community members.

An exhibition by Chhouk Sar Clinic promoted sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, HIV self-testing, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to attendees. Stefano Morrone with SafeSpaceBTB, displayed an art storytelling exhibition about the desires, fears, and memories of nine LGBTQI+ representatives of Battambang, Cambodia. The event brought together approximately 100 LGBTQI+ members, entertainers, activists, and allies to celebrate and commemorate the Cambodian LGBTQI+ community. 

Featured image: Art storytelling exhibition by Stefano Morrone from SafeSpaceBTB (Photo Credit: Maly Phou, FHI 360/EpiC Cambodia)

[i] Through the Meeting Targets and Maintaining Epidemic Control (EpiC) Project, funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and USAID and the Civil Society Support (CSS) Activity funded by USAID.