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Same sex marriage in Cambodia

More and more countries are currently looking into making same sex marriage legal. Gay rights and same sex marriage were discussed by Norodom Sihanouk (the king-father at that time). He appeared to be interested in the developments around same sex marriages in San Francisco and spoke about this topic on his internet site. He also stated that, should the population (or the majority) be in favor of the possibility of same sex marriages in Cambodia, he would legalize the option. Sihanouk also mentioned that it was his belief that God views all people as equal, including transvestites and homosexuals. Since this statement on the internet no effort has been made to legislate same sex marriages. 

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The Cambodian constitution says that marriage is legal when the partners to be married are a man and a woman. One exception has apparently been made for the same sex marriage and partnership recognition of Khav Sokha and Pum Eth. They were married in a village called Kro Bao Kok, situated in the Kandal province. Both partners are from this village. The authorities appear to have condoned the marriage because one of the two partners had three children already. If this had not been the case, both people could not have been joined in a same sex marriage because of the fact that no children could be produced. The marriage was fully acknowledged and approved and 250 people (including province officials) joined in on the ceremony and celebrations. There were no legal repercussions after the event. The wedding held place on 12 March 1995. Buddhist monks also attended the wedding.

The Theravada Buddhist monks and community in Cambodia are mainly staying out of the debate on same sex marriage. The monks have not spoken out about gay or lesbian union in the media and will not actively enter the debate. In Buddhism one of the fundamental 'rules' is that all humans are equal and to most Buddhists same sex marriages are acceptable. The monks usually refrain from commenting on the matter any further as marriages and legislation are seen as worldly questions that they will not debate. Another reason for staying out of the debate is the belief that lay people (non-Buddhists) can enter into sexual relationships and it does not matter whether both partners are of the same sex or not. In Buddhism sexual intercourse is not seen as primarily necessary for pro-creation, unlike in Christianity.

Whether same sex marriages will eventually become legal in Cambodia is still a question that needs to be answered. The Buddhist community is not entering the debate and it is up to the political rulers for Cambodia to decide whether the option will become legal and possible for those living in Cambodia. The gay and lesbian communities seem hopeful now that more and more nations around the world are changing the legislation around marriages in favor of same sex marriages. In Cambodia homosexuality is legal if both partners are over the age of fifteen and in consent. The activities of both partners have to be non-commercial and private.

 

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