Staying true to yourself: A tale of discrimination and love in Cambodia

Date: Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Prey Sdouk Village, Cambodia – For most of her 48 years, Sao Mimol has endured taunts, from her family at home and from strangers on the street. But she remains bubbly and happy because she still chose to stay true to herself.

Sao Mimol kisses her partner in front of the LGBT pride flag during the workshop in Takeo. Photo: UN Women/Mariken Harbitz
Sao Mimol kisses her partner in front of the LGBT pride flag during the workshop in Takeo. Photo: UN Women/Mariken Harbitz

Even though she had many brothers and sisters while growing up in Takeo Province near Phnom Penh, Ms. Mimol often felt outside of the box, disconnected from the world around her.

She was 20 when she first realized that she was attracted to other women. She was then a garment factory worker in Phnom Penh; the road to love and happiness seemed to wind endlessly.

“When I first came out, my siblings did not allow me to love women,” she recalled. “Since then, my family has always used bad words to describe me and my love life. … My family told me that I wouldn’t be able to have children, and they thought I would never be happy in life.”

Ms. Mimol’s story was one of the many heartbreaking, yet empowering life stories heard during a 21-25 May workshop in this village in Takeo’s Bati District for LGBT people and their supporters. It was part of a LGBT PRIDE event organized by Cam ASEAN, a Cambodian human rights group supported by UN Women.

To read the full story visit UN Women's regional website for Asia and the Pacific.