Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned that HIV infections remain a threat in Cambodia, as he noted an increase of 300 new cases in 2022 over the previous year. The infection rate was described as highest among men who have sex with men (MSM).

The premier called for increased vigilance, as he met with nearly 20,000 workers from 13 factories on June 24 at the Morodok Techo National Stadium.

“There is an alarming rise among MSM, while we are less concerned about heterosexuals,” he said.

He explained that while the Kingdom has not created a same-sex marriage law, it does not discriminate against same-sex relationships.

“We allow LGBT people to love each other, but we are not creating a law for same-sex marriage. We do not prohibit nor punish members of the LGBT community,” he said.

“Please do not forget that Cambodia has not yet eliminated HIV. Condom use is the most effective means of preventing the transmission of HIV, so I urge all members of the public to use them whenever necessary,” he added.

He also called on factories and manufacturing enterprises, as well as other businesses and state institutions, to not discriminate against people living with HIV/AIDS and to encourage people to protect themselves against the possibility of transmitting the virus.

In 2022, the Kingdom recorded 1,400 new cases of HIV/AIDS, an increase of 300 over the previous year. He urged caution, warning that the virus is more dangerous than Covid-19, and reminded people that there is no cure.

Lim Borin, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights’ (CCHR) project coordinator for gender equality, said he is working to enhance LGBT rights, and urged the adoption of a law that would give same-sex couples the same right to marry as heterosexual couples.

He noted that LGBT rights are advancing in many European countries, with governments enacting LGBT marriage equality laws and promoting LGBT rights.

“If there are no marriage equality laws, same-sex couples are faced with legal issues. They are unable to register for marriage certificates and or legal documents for adoptions and the like,” he explained.

“If LGBT couples have access to legal documents related to marital equality, they can exercise full family rights and be recognised as a family by society,” he added.

He said that marriage equality would play a part in reducing discrimination from some members of the public who do not accept LGBT’s rights.

According to the National AIDS Authority (NAA) on June 15, the NAA has agreed to issue a number of decisions, including a strategy towards achieving the first 95 goal, meaning 95 per cent of people living with HIV/AIDS are aware of their status. They aimed to meet this goal through public education campaigns and by encouraging people to get tested regularly.

According to Cambodia HIV Statistics factsheet released by UNAIDS, in 2021, the Kingdom was home to 74,000 people living with HIV, 62,561 of whom were receiving antiretroviral medicines.