News / Asia

Vietnamese LGBT Advocates to Celebrate Benchmark Year

Participants hold a rainbow flag while attending Vietnam's first-ever gay pride parade, Hanoi, Aug. 5, 2012.
Participants hold a rainbow flag while attending Vietnam's first-ever gay pride parade, Hanoi, Aug. 5, 2012.
Marianne Brown
The Vietnamese government is routinely criticized for its human rights record, but in the past year gay rights activists have made headway for their cause nationwide.
A year after the "Viet Pride" rally that put Vietnamese lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists in an international spotlight, advocates are preparing rainbow flags and matching t-shirts to celebrate Viet Pride 2013, a Sunday celebration featuring film screenings, a flash mobs, fashion shows and, in Hanoi, the all-important bicycle parade.
The last year has been a momentous one for the country’s LGBT rights community. In 2012, proposals to grant same-sex marriage licenses were part of serious discussions over revisions to the country's Marriage and Family Law, and speculation over whether Vietnam's would become the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize same-sex marriage ran high.
"I think from last year the social debate has been widespread to different corners of society including policymakers and lawmakers in the National Assembly," said Le Quang Binh, an analyst with the Hanoi-based Institute for the Studies of Society, Economy and Environment.
While a draft proposal recently approved by the government does not go so far as to legalize same-sex marriage, it does give homosexual couples more rights and, Binh says, represents a step towards same-sex marriage.
"We lift the ban on same-sex marriage but we don’t legalize same-sex marriage .... we recognize that same-sex couples [live] together as a family," she said. "They might have kids, property, other common things, and the government would not intervene into that."
In a society historically based on a family model of heterosexual marriage, familiarizing those with traditional views to new types of family structures requires lots of discussion. Over the last few years, Vietnam's LGBT community has grown more confident in their activism, even conducting training workshops for local journalists to improve their representation of gay people in local media.
In a concerted push against discrimination, gay rights advocates are even altering how Vietnamese language describes gay people by asking employers to use workplace posters that explain what homosexuality is and how common derogatory Vietnamese terms such as "bi-gay" -  which suggests being afflicted with a disease - can be offensive.
"The workplace is one of the three channels that can reach people very effectively," said Nguyen Thanh Tam, a Viet Pride 2013 co-organizer who emphasizes the importance of changing people's ideas about what it means to be gay. "People spend a lot of time at home, school and at work. We can do very little things at school right now, but we can do something in the workplace."
For author Nguyen Ngoc Thach, who recently published Vietnam’s first biography of a transgender person, ‘Transgender’, which has nearly sold out, mere professional success is a sign of changing times.
His upcoming book, "Mum, I’m Gay," a worldwide history of LGBT movement, is scheduled to publish in days. Although many Vietnamese groups have been able to publish non-fiction books on gay rights in the past, Thach says his latest work is different.
"The main difference is when some organizations publish the book, the publishing department of Vietnam doesn’t know that. They cannot sell it at the bookstore. But with "Mum, I’m Gay": it’s published by the Publishing Department of Vietnam, so a lot of bookstores will sell it and people who come to the bookstore will see it and buy it."
Although Thach agrees same-sex marriage is important for the LGBT community, he thinks more should be done to help transgender people. In Vietnam hospitals still can only offer sex reassignment surgery to intersex people, and transgender people cannot change their gender on official documents.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: billywin garten son from: baltimroe
August 05, 2013 12:31 AM
Fortunately the Catholic church has only about 1% of the population as believers. Don't know about evangelicals, who are far worse then the Vatican
Why is eg Sweden and Denmark such tolerant societies and as I've been told by many some of the best educated people in the world Again, the god bothers of the Vatican are few and far between

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs