LGBT rights in Laos
|LGBT rights in Laos|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal|
While homosexuality is legal in Laos, it is very difficult to assess the current state of acceptance and violence that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens face, because the government does not allow those who are not associated with the government to conduct polls on human rights. Numerous claims have suggested that Laos is one of the most tolerant communist states at the current time, with a growing acceptance of homosexuality. However, numerous reports have claimed that gay men are far likelier to be tolerated in the country than lesbians; an attitude that has been apparent throughout Lao history. Despite such progress, discrimination still exists.
Recognition of same-sex unions
Laos does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor any other form of same-sex union. There have been no known debates of such unions being legalized in the near future, though this does not imply that the government or Laotians are opposed to such unions—the topic has simply yet to come up for debate.
Laws against discrimination
Currently, there are no laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and the national Constitution does not expressly address sexual orientation or gender identity issues.
Culture, events and media
Gay foreigners visiting Laos in the 1990s sometimes reported the existence of a taboo associated with foreigners, that made it hard to interact with Laos, except discreetly at night. Today, the government does block access to LGBT themed webpages and discussions about LGBT issues in the media are rare, beyond transsexuals who are quite visible in the culture as entertainment. However, the government generally tolerates, or simply ignores, LGBT people unless they campaign for LGBT rights or judged by the government to be too publicly immodest or indecent. Tolerance for LGBT people is, as is often the case, stronger in the urban cities than in the rural neighborhoods.
The government has allowed certain public health non-governmental organizations to work with the LGBT community. Lao Positive Health Association, founded in 1999, promotes AIDS-HIV education to many different segments of Lao, including men who have sex with other men.
The first public LGBT Pride held in Laos was held in June 2012 on the sports field of the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, with 100 participants; the guests of honor were U.S. Ambassador to Laos Karen Stewart and Dr. Bounpheng Philavong, Director of the Center for HIV/AIDS/STI (CHAS) at the Lao Ministry of Health. Themed "Proud to be Us", the event was organized by Laotian and intergovernmental organizations, including the Purple Sky Network, Lao Positive Health Association, Population Services International, the Burnet Institute, Family Health International, the Vientiane Youth Center for Health and Development, and UNFPA.