Same-sex marriage in Cambodia

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Legal status of same-sex unions
  1. Marriages performed in some municipalities and recognized by the state
  2. For some purposes only
  3. When performed in Mexican states that have legalized same-sex marriage
  4. When performed in the Netherlands proper

* Not yet in effect

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Currently, Cambodia does not recognize any form of same-sex unions. However same-sex marriage has received support from many important figures and government organisations, including former King Norodom Sihanouk, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Women's Affairs.[1] Furthermore a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was repealed in 2011.



In September 1993, the Cambodia constituent assembly, a special body elected in 1993, drafted a constitution for Cambodia. This constitution defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. However this ban was removed in 2011, rendering same-sex marriage neither legal or illegal.[2] Additionally in 2007, the Civil Code was amended by defining marriage as a union between "one husband" and "one wife", therefore leaving it rather open to interpretation as there is no mention of "man" and "woman".[3] The same amendment was made to the constitution:[4]

Marriage shall be conducted according to conditions determined by law based on the principle of mutual consent between one husband and one wife.

Case of one marriage[edit]

There is one recorded case of a legally valid same-sex civil marriage contraction in Cambodia. Khav Sokha and Pum Eth were married on March 12, 1995, in the village of Kro Bao Ach Kok, in Kandal Province, where they are from. Sokha said in an interview to the Phnom Penh Post, "The authorities thought it was strange, but they agreed to tolerate it because I have three children already (from a previous marriage). They said that if we were both single (and childless), we would not be allowed to get married because we could not produce children". Thus, it is a fully acknowledged marriage, with official approval, and there was not really any reaction to it. It was a popular event, with 250 people coming to the ceremony and partying, including Buddhist monks and high officials from the Province.(Juan Pablo Ordonez - May 1996)[5]

Support from public figures[edit]

After witnessing same-sex marriages being performed in San Francisco in 2004, King Norodom Sihanouk expressed support for legalizing such unions in Cambodia, though he nor anyone in the government has yet to take any action to legislate them.[6]

Following the enactment of the Constitution of Nepal in September 2015, several government organisations and spokespeople made positive comments on same-sex marriage and/or partnerships. The Ministry of Interior announced possibility to push for the legalization of same-sex marriage.[1] The Ministry of Women's Affairs incorporated rights to same-sex relationships in its second National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women 2014-2018.[1] Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan expressed support for the LGBT community and said "Cambodian society does not discriminate against LGBT people. It is only individuals who do so. No Cambodian laws discriminate against them, and nothing is banning them from loving each other or getting married".[7] The Cambodian Government also expressed a welcome reaction to the Nepal Constitution, saying there was a possibility for same-sex marriages to be passed as a law.[3]


See also[edit]