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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More