HANOI - Vietnam lawmakers on Tuesday passed changes to a civil code that acknowledges transgender people and gives them rights to change gender in legal documents, reflecting a major advance in the Communist government's viewpoint on gender issues.
Under the new law, which will take effect from Jan. 1, 2017, people who underwent sex change would have "rights and obligations to register for changes in civil status" and personal rights associated with their new gender.
"This is an encouraging signal for LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] community in Vietnam," said Nguyen Thanh Tam, founder of Viet Pride, one of the most popular public events displaying LGBT community solidarity.
"The change meets the expectations of people undergoing sex-reassignment surgery and helps create a unified gender identification scheme," Tam said.
Rights groups have been fighting for years in close-by Thailand for a change in legislation so that transgender people can change their sex on travel documents.
Thailand has a prominent LGBT community but the country remains largely conservative and the law bans changes to gender categories on national identity papers and prevents gay couples from taking joint bank loans and medical insurance.