In the vicinity of Phnom Penh

The day before yesterday in the vicinity of Phnom Penh with my Khmer gay friend and tour guide Chhom.

It was he who organized a surprise party for my Birthday. Now I’m already in another city – Sihanoukville, but we’ll see each other again when I return to Phnom Penh for the last week of my trip.

My birthday

It so happened that last Friday I celebrated my birthday in a gay club of Phnom Penh. I was presented with a cake ordered in advance by my new Khmer friend. I, as is appropriate, blew out the candles, and all the visitors of the club had a piece of this cake.

What a pleasant surprise! Very memorable.

My first day in Phnom Penh

I liked my first day in Phnom Penh. I visited the Royal Palace (by the way, it is not far from my hotel) and its territory, which includes various monuments, buildings and gardens. The Silver Pagoda is also there, with the golden Buddha and the emerald Buddha (unfortunately, no pictures are allowed, same as in the Throne Hall). I went to the largest market of the city – Russian market. Then I went to a gay club and met some nice guys there.

This morning I will have a bike tour to the islands of the Mekong River. Then I am going to visit the National Museum (it is also near my hotel, almost adjacent to the Palace).

Here are three photos I took in the territory of the Royal Palace.

Phnom Penh

I am writing to you from the capital of Cambodia, where I arrived almost at midnight. This morning, it was a really good rest for me after a difficult itinerary with two stopovers. I have had breakfast, and soon am going to the city centre for sightseeing. I am staying in a small hotel, not far from the Royal Palace, etc. I came to Cambodia for three and a half weeks for a holiday. I really liked my last year’s trip. It was short, but memorable in all respects. However, I visited only the city of Siem Reap. It’s the main tourist attraction of Cambodia thanks to the amazing temples of Angkor Wat. But I want to get to know other parts of the country as well. And here I am in Phnom Penh.

I found some photos of the famous Khmer gay dance group. Here they are.

Well done!

After several hours of debate, the House of Representatives has just passed a law on same-sex marriage.
This means that BOTH chambers of Parliament approved the bill.
So, same-sex marriage is now legal in Australia.
Australia is the 26th country to allow same-sex marriage.
Couples can file applications already this Saturday, December 9.
And weddings can be held from January 9, 2018.
Well done! Hooray!

World AIDS Day

Last night Cairns held an event dedicated to the World AIDS Day. We heard speeches, a list of AIDS victims was read out, a small concert was held, roses were laid and candles lit in memory of the victims.

The attendees had an opportunity to talk to each other. The place which was chosen is beautiful – centre of the city, by the sea.

Here are some pictures

1 December

Congratulations to all of us on the advent of the new season – the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere, and the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere, including Australia. This is a special month, leading to the New Year. I hope lots of good and exciting things will happen for us in December.

HIV / AIDS week

Yesterday saw the start of the HIV / AIDS Awareness Week. Here, in Cairns, we have volunteers on duty every day, distributing  information and items (flyers, pens, bracelets, notepads, pins, ribbons, even shoe laces and bags with logos and emblems). People receive information, pick some objects, and make small donations if they wish. Yesterday I had a shift, together with some other volunteers, at the Sunday market stall near the Botanic Gardens. Here are some photos (first: Ian, Nae and I, second: Ben and Ian, third: Ian and Nae).

The postal survey is over – what’s next?

Yesterday morning, the head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced the results of the postal survey (plebiscite): the vast majority of Australians voted for legalising same-sex marriage – a historic social change. I’d like remind you that in 2004, the conservative government of Australia, led by John Howard, amended the law to specify that marriage is possible only between a man and a woman. This was contrary to the world trend of the movement for same-sex marriages and relevant legislation. In 2001, such a law was enacted in the Netherlands, in 2003 – in Belgium and some Canadian provinces, in 2004 – in virtually all Canadian provinces. In 2005, such a law was adopted as a national law in Canada, and Spain. These countries were joined in the following years by South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, Brazil, France, Uruguay, New Zealand, Luxembourg, the United States of America, Ireland, Brazil, Colombia, Finland, Malta, Germany and Taiwan. And also three parts of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland and Wales) and many states of Mexico.

The right hand of Howard, and later also the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, then as a minister post, and later on as head of government, aggressively rejected the idea of ​​same-sex marriage. However, when Abbott’s position was under threat (and, fortunately for the country, he was overthrown only two years after his election for total incompetence), he said that if the conservative government was reelected, a plebiscite would be held on same-sex marriage. His successor, Malcolm Turnbull, who was pressured by such hardliners in the parliament, as Eric Abetz, Kevin Andrews, Cory Bernardi and Tony Abbott (who managed to retain his parliament seat), decided not to take any chances and organised a postal plebiscite, the results of which you already know. It was a humiliating and expensive procedure, which, however, proved once again the backwardness of these people. They had been told that such issues should resolved by free vote in the parliament, but they were not convinced. A nationwide poll was required for them to understand what the Australian people thought about it.

Yesterday, the bill on same-sex marriage was presented to the Senate for consideration. Good to note that Prime Minister Turnbull called on parliamentarians to pass the law before Christmas. Just a few weeks to go. After many years of procrastination and hassle, this is almost nothing. Victory is almost assured.

Yesterday, Australia was celebrating. Cairns was no exception. Representatives of the LGBT community and their allies gathered at the Centre of Contemporary Arts, including the premises of cafe Paradiso, to celebrate the plebiscite’s outcome. Here are a couple of pictures.

Hobart, Tasmania, October 2017 (1)

As I mentioned before, recently I visited Tasmania. I spent two weeks in the capital of this Australian state – Hobart (and one day, on October 22, I had a tour outside this city – you’ve already seen the photos).

Here’s the first selection of my Hobart’s pictures.