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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs