About Careers MedBlog Contact us

Taboos Surrounding Homosexuality Crumbling in Vietnam

by Bidita Debnath on August 5, 2014 at 10:42 PM
Font : A-A+

 Taboos Surrounding Homosexuality Crumbling in Vietnam

From flamboyant parades to symbolic same-sex weddings, taboos surrounding homosexuality are slowly crumbling in Vietnam, but activists say only freedom to marry will bring true equality.

Homosexuality was once viewed as a "social evil". In the latest celebration of the small but significant legal gains for the country's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, around 300 people joined a colourful bicycle parade through the narrow streets of Hanoi on Sunday.

It was the country's third -- and largest -- gay pride event, as increasingly tolerant attitudes gain ground in a nation where conservative Confucian values and traditions still dominate, particularly in rural areas.

Vietnam's main cities, from the capital Hanoi to southern Ho Chi Minh City, have small but vibrant gay night life scenes. And the authoritarian country now finds itself among the most progressive nations in Asia in terms of its approach to sexuality.

In 2012, lawmakers even mulled changing the law to permit same-sex marriage -- a move which would have catapulted the Vietnam to the forefront of gay rights in the region -- but it stopped short.

Instead, they abolished fines for same-sex wedding parties -- symbolic unions that lack full legal recognition.

Emboldened activists are now pressing authorities to revisit the marriage issue.

"We really want Vietnam to fully legalise same-sex marriage... so we can own property and adopt a child together," Dao Le Duc Nghi, 30, told AFP.

Nghi "married" his partner Nguyen Cong Luan in April at a "happy wedding" which just five months earlier would have likely been broken up by local officials.

"Both sets of parents were there. We had around 200 guests. We informed local authorities and they told us to go ahead," Nghi told AFP.

But the couple, who run a small restaurant called Pe De Crab Noodles -- Pe De means gay in Vietnamese -- in southern Binh Phuoc province, say they are hoping for changes which will grant their symbolic union the same legal status as a normal marriage.

"They will legalise same-sex marriage eventually," Nghi said. "There is no reason not to."

- 'Big disappointment' -

For now, the government disagrees. It says Vietnam's conservative rural population is not ready to accept same-sex unions.

"In the last few years there have been big changes in public opinion," said sociologist Le Quang Binh, adding it was "a big disappointment" that same-sex marriage had not been legalised.

There was a clause in a new family law which would have extended some legal protections to LGBT couples regarding property rights and adoption.

But it was removed by the National Assembly at the last minute.

This means that same-sex couples still cannot own property together or jointly adopt children.

Trinh Thi Thanh Binh, deputy-in-charge of social affairs at the National Assembly, told AFP that the removal of fines for same-sex wedding parties was still an important step.

"Homosexuals are like anyone else, they have the same rights as everyone else," she claimed.

Binh conceded that the LGBT community had suffered discrimination, leaving many people feeling unable to come out to their families or live with their partners in public.

"But the law protects the rights of all citizens, whether they're the majority or minority," she said, asserting that removing the wedding party fines had improved life for gay couples.

- Viet Pride -

The numbers at Sunday's Viet Pride event may have be relatively small compared to the huge street parties hosted by western capitals such as London, Berlin or Sydney.

But activists insist their movement is snowballing.

"We have seen small but firm and consistent progress," said event organiser Tam Nguyen.

The first year the parade was held, Vietnamese journalists from state-run media covered it reluctantly -- and only after the event received widespread international coverage.

This time around, local television and newspapers have beaten a path to Nguyen's door.

"They're serious about this," she said.

Hanoi is frequently criticised by international watchdogs for human rights abuses, making it seem an unlikely champion for the region's LGBT community.

"LGBT rights have been a useful bright spot for Hanoi to point to in its dismal human rights record," said Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson.

"But eventually the LGBT community in Vietnam will expect more."

Source: AFP

Recommended Reading

Latest Lifestyle News

Want Smooth Underarms? 4 Ways to Pamper Your Armpits This Summer
Summer skincare tips for underarm sweating and smelly armpits: For silky smooth underarms, make sure to shave armpit hair, use deodorant roll-on, moisturize, and exfoliate properly
Sleep Well to Work Well: 5 Ways to Be More Successful at Work
Is sleep the secret of success? Having a good night's sleep can make you more productive at work. So, sleep better to work well.
Attend Live Sports to Walk Away From Loneliness
How to deal with loneliness? Just sitting in a crowd and watching live sports can make you stop feeling lonely.
Hot Showers are Good for Your Health: Here's Why
Are hot showers good for you? Bathing with hot water can calm your mind, relieve stress, relax your muscles and help you sleep well. Choose hot water bath every day to stay healthy
Mind-Body Connection: Benefits of Dual-Task Walking Performance!
Walking is a complex activity that can be impacted by multitasking, highlighting the importance of maintaining physical and cognitive health as we age.
View All
This site uses cookies to deliver our services.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use  Ok, Got it. Close

Sexual Problem

Consult an Expert


Taboos Surrounding Homosexuality Crumbling in Vietnam Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests