Justin Francis Bionat, Cohort 2018

Abstract

Health issues of non-heterosexual men are not similar across the world. Health issues come with varying consequences to the lives of individuals when studying violations to the right to health. Health disparities exist in societies regardless of their attitudes towards LGBT individuals. This study’s added value to the existing abundance of academic knowledge is its attention on sexual identity and subjectivities and its profound impact in the fulfillment of the fundamental right to health. The majority of previous studies on gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) identities in Cambodia are focused largely on individualistic risky sexual behaviour. The global HIV epidemic raised the awareness of LGBT communities but has led to the labelling of non-heterosexual men as “at-risk” or “socially deviant” populations.

Therefore, the research question put forward by this research is: “How does the GB-MSM sexual identity impact (or affect) the access to sexual health care of GB-MSM in Cambodia?” This study takes into consideration indigenous Khmer terminologies that describe sexuality and gender, such as the boros sralang boros, sak lay and pros saat. This study employs queer theory and queer methodology in its analysis premised on the notion that privilege heterosexuality discriminates those outside this stem of power. This study pays close attention to the multiplicity and fluidity of the subject and subjectivities which are sculpted not only by sexuality and gender, but also race, ethnicity, postcoloniality and class. This research “queer(y)” presents the narratives of Khmer GB-MSM individuals and medicalized notions of sexual identity (and behaviour) impacting the navigation of sexual health access. Utilizing the stories of the participants, this paper challenges the labelling, regulating and controlling of sexuality under categories of “deviance”, “risk” and “illness”. Biomedicine constructed a causal link between homosexuality and HIV/AIDS developing standards wherein queer bodies are seen as diseased and heterosexual bodies as the standard of normality and health.

The findings from this study have evinced that sexuality plays a pivotal role in the access to sexual health services due to fear of exposing one’s sexuality, distrust in the healthcare system because of previous experiences of mistreatment, and acceptance within social circles including the family. However, other factors to access have surfaced such as cost of sexual health care services (like HIV/AIDS testing and treatment), outreach strategies of health service providers and existence of peer-based models. In order to achieve global health justice we have to place prime focus on the dismantling of the hierarchizations and categorization of non-normative sexual identities.

Key words: HIV AIDS; sexual health; msm; queer theory; Cambodia

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