Is Cambodia LGBTQIA+ friendly?

LGBTQIA+ travellers are those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (a more inclusive LGBT initialism), plus queer or questioning, intersex or asexual individuals, as well as those who identify beyond these commonly used sexuality and gender expressions. Specific situations and issues may present themselves to travellers who identify with one or more of these terms when visiting Cambodia.

LGBTQIA+ rights in Cambodia

Social attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ individuals in Cambodia are complex. Same-sex relationships are legal, but same-sex marriage is not. While many Cambodians are ostensibly accepting of identities and sexualities that exist outside the hetero-cis binary, they often view them as something individuals can change at will, or that develop due to trauma.

Traditional Khmer culture recognises the existence of gender identity outside of the binary; however, transgender Cambodians are often subject to discrimination. LGBTQIA+ Cambodians often experience social pressure to enter ‘traditional’ heterosexual marriages and/or adopt a gender expression that aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Is Cambodia safe for LGBTQIA+ travellers?

View of colourful streetlights at night in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Despite these complexities, Cambodia is generally a safe destination and it's unlikely that LGBTQIA+ travellers will experience any outright discrimination during their travels. LGBTQIA+ travellers in rural areas or small villages may encounter confusion and bemusement, but discrimination and violence are very unlikely. Keep in mind that public displays of affection are very uncommon in Cambodia, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

LGBTQIA+ culture in Phnom Penh

Colourful street of Phnom Penh, Cambodia

A solid collection of gay and gay-friendly establishments are on offer in Phnom Penh, from the thumping nightclub, Heart of Darkness to the friendly salon-bar hybrid, Space. People who enjoy drag performances will also be spoiled for choice in the capital. While all of these establishments currently cater to gay men, they are generally accepting spaces for all LGBTQIA+ identified people. Blue Chillies, in particular, enjoys a warm reputation as an accepting space for all. Overall, LGBTQIA+ travellers will find Phnom Penh a welcoming destination.

LGBTQIA+ culture in Siem Reap

Siem Reap has an established LGBTQIA+ scene catering to locals and expats which includes a handful of bars as well as cafes, hotels and saunas. As with Phnom Penh, the majority of these spaces are geared towards gay men. However, many of the bars are accepting spaces for all LGBTQIA+ people. Vintage-style cocktail bar, Miss Wong, is a great place to meet other LGBTQIA+ identifying people, and Barcode has professional drag performances regularly.

For more detailed and up-to-date information, please visit Equaldex or Rainbow Community Kampuchea.

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