Cambodia PM slammed for disowning lesbian daughter

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen greets the crowd upon his arrival at the launching of Cambodia Securities Market Project at a hotel in Phnom Penh September 6, 2007. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Women’s rights campaigners in Cambodia lashed out at Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday for trying to disown his adopted daughter because she is a lesbian.

“You do not have to agree with her decision, but you have to respect her rights,” said Theary Seng, executive director of the Center for Social Development in the war-scarred southeast Asian nation’s capital.

Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge soldier, told a graduation ceremony this week he was “disappointed” that his 19-year-old daughter, whom he adopted in 1988, was a lesbian.

“I have my own problem -- my adopted daughter has a wife,” he said. “Now I will ask the court to disown her from my family.”

Hun Sen has been in charge of Cambodia for the last two decades and is not known for a liberal outlook to life or politics.

He and his wife, Bun Rany, have three sons and two daughters, and had kept the adoption of a third daughter a closely guarded secret. He did not reveal her name in his speech.

“I can educate people in the whole country, but I cannot educate my adopted daughter,” he added. “We sent her to study in the U.S., but she did a bad job. She returned home and took a wife.”

However, Hun Sen asked Cambodia’s 13 million people to be more tolerant of homosexuals.

“I urge parents of gays not to discriminate against them, and do not call them transvestites,” Hun Sen said.