LGBT rights in Vietnam

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LGBT rights in Vietnam Vietnam
Same-sex sexual activity legal? No laws against homosexuality in recorded Vietnamese history
Gender identity/expression Sex-change recognized for sex assignment for persons of congenital sex defects and unidentifiable sex[1]
Military service Unknown
Discrimination protections No
Family rights
Recognition of
Adoption No

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) persons in Vietnam may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal and is believed to never have been criminalized in Vietnamese history.[2] However, same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are ineligible for the legal protections available to opposite-sex couples. Although homosexuality is generally considered a taboo because of the Vietnamese tradition, awareness surrounding LGBT rights has risen during the 21st century.

Vietnam's first gay pride parade peacefully took place in Hanoi on August 5, 2012 and has been annually taken place in dozens of provinces. [3]

As of June 30th, 2016, Vietnam, together with South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Nepal and Mongolia, are the only countries in Asia that have voted in favor of new resolution on protection of LGBT community put forward by the United Nations. [4]

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Same-sex sexual acts are not crimes. In fact, many historians believe that homosexuality was never addressed in the nation's criminal code.[5]

Recognition of same-sex unions[edit]

In July 2012, the country's minister of justice announced that the government has started a consultation on whether to legalize same-sex marriage.[6]

In June 2013, the Ministry of Justice submitted the bill that removes the ban on same-sex marriage from the Marriage and Family Law and provides some rights for cohabiting same-sex couples.[7] The National Assembly debated it in October 2013.[8]

On 24 September 2013, the Government issued the decree abolishing the fines on same-sex marriages.[9][10] The decree took effect on 11 November 2013.[11][12][13]

On 27 May 2014, the National Assembly's Committee for Social Affairs removed the provision giving legal status and some rights to cohabiting same-sex couples from the government's bill to amend the Law on Marriage and Family.[14][15] The bill was approved by the National Assembly on 19 June 2014.[16][17] A March 2014 poll indicate that 53% of Vietnamese were against same-sex marriage.[18]

In November 2013, the parliament repealed the constitutional provision defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.[19][20]

On 1 January 2015, the 2014 Law on Marriage and Family officially went into effect. It states that while Vietnam allows gay weddings, it will not offer legal recognition or protection to unions between people of the same sex.[21] Despite the limitation, the Vietnamse LGBT community are optimistic that this latest legislation is an important stepping stone. Jamie Gillen, a National University of Singapore sociology researcher also states that Vietnam's relaxation of stance contrasts with Vietnam's neighbors such as Singapore. Vietnam's neighbors forbid same-sex marriages.[22] It is estimated that such relaxed policies will attract tourism revenue into Vietnam as Vietnam attempts to promote themselves as a tolerant and friendly society.

Gender identity[edit]

On November 24, 2015 Vietnam passed a landmark law by a vote of 282-84, enshrining rights for transgender people in a move advocacy groups say paves the way for gender reassignment surgery in the authoritarian communist nation. Such operations are currently illegal, forcing people to travel to nearby Thailand for the surgery. The legislation will allow those who have undergone gender reassignment to register under their preferred sex. The law will come into effect early in 2017.[23]

Living conditions and public opinion[edit]

In 2000, crime journalist Bui Anh Tan's novel A World Without Women (Một Thế Giới Không Có Đàn Bà) was the first fictional Vietnamese book to deal extensively with gay people. In 2007, the story was turned into a television series.[24]

In 2001, a survey found that 82 percent of Vietnamese believe homosexuality is never acceptable.[25]

In 2002, the government-run media declared homosexuality to be a "social evil" comparable to prostitution, gambling, and illegal drug use and promised that legislation would be forthcoming to allow the government to combat homosexuality and arrest gay couples.[26] Publications such as The Gioi Phu Nu and Tiep Thi Va Gia Dinh have spoken of homosexuality as a disease and "deviant behavior that is incompatible with the good morals and time-honored customs of Vietnam."[27]

The same year that the government-run press called homosexuality a "social evil", the Communist Youth Newspaper carried a story about homosexuality that stated "some people are born gay, just as some people are born left-handed".[28]

In 2007, HCMC University of Pedagogy conducted a poll of 300 pupils at three junior high and high schools and discovered that 80 percent of pupils answered "no" when asked, "Is homosexuality bad?"[29]

Controversial film director Le Hoang also took a more liberal tone when he stated that while homosexuality is a mental illness, "Qualities such as morality, talent, and dignity do not depend on sexuality."[27]

In 2009, Pham Le Quynh Tram became the first transgender woman to be legally recognized by Vietnamese authorities as a woman.[30][31] As such, she was allowed to redefine her sex from male to female and to legally change her name to Pham Le Quynh Tram from Pham Van Hiep.[30][31] However, according to a report in the Huffington Post, her official recognition was apparently withdrawn in late January 2013 (Huffington Post)..

In September 2010, Tuoi Tre Online, the internet edition of Tuoi Tre newspaper, published a letter from an 18-year-old reader describing his hard time dealing with family after they found out he was gay. The letter received hundreds of supportive responses from other readers that led the website to conclude it with an interview with Dr. Huynh Van Son, Dean of Psychology, HCMC University of Pedagogy. For the first time, a major state media agreed that "homosexuality is normal".[32] On 29 November, the first foreign gay wedding was held in Hanoi between a Japanese and an Irish national. The wedding raised much attention in the gay and lesbian community in Vietnam.[33]

On 5 August 2012, Vietnam's first gay pride parade took place in Hanoi, with participants expressing support for equal marriage rights for LGBT individuals.[34]

In 2013, Vietnamese filmer Dang Khoa, produced a sitcom entitled My Best Gay Friends. The series is published on YouTube as Vietnamese broadcasters were reluctant to air the episodes. Khoa wanted to create the show to debunk the caricature stereotypes of homosexuality.[35]

HIV and AIDS[edit]

In 2006, the government enacted legislation to protect citizens infected with HIV and persons living with AIDS from discrimination, and health care is provided free to all Vietnamese citizens.[36]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Always legal)
Equal age of consent Yes (Always equal)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Single homosexuals are allowed to adopt Yes (Since 2000)
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Yes (Since 1992)
Right to change legal gender Yes (Since 2017)
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood Yes (Not prohibited)[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ VIETNAM
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "The Legality of Homosexuality in Vietnam". 21 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  6. ^ "Vietnam government consults on same-sex marriage", Gay Star News, 20 June 2012
  7. ^ (Vietnamese) P.Thảo (2013-06-26). "Sẽ không cấm kết hôn giữa người đồng giới?". Dân Trí. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 
  8. ^ Gay rights in South-East Asia: Fifty shades of pink
  9. ^ Nghị quyết sửa đổi, bổ sung Hiến pháp năm 1992 (in Vietnamese)
  10. ^ DPA (2013-11-28). "Vietnam amends Constitution". Retrieved 2014-01-05. 
  11. ^ Vietnam to remove fines on same-sex marriage
  13. ^ Một số điểm mới về xử phạt vi phạm hành chính tại Nghị định số 110/2013/NĐ-CP (in Vietnamese)
  14. ^ Vietnamese lawmakers back down on giving rights to same-sex couples
  15. ^ Vietnam’s Proposed Marriage Law Disappoints LGBT Activists
  16. ^ Vietnam allows surrogacy within families, denies same-sex marriage
  17. ^ Vietnam removes ban on same sex marriage
  18. ^ "53% protest gay marriage legalization in Vietnam: study". 27 March 2014.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  19. ^ (Vietnamese) Nghị quyết sửa đổi, bổ sung Hiến pháp năm 1992
  20. ^ DPA (2013-11-28). "Vietnam amends Constitution". Retrieved 2014-01-05. 
  21. ^ Vietnam Set To Lift Gay Marriage Ban
  22. ^ Marr, Richard.'Vietnam Removes Same-Sex Marriage Ban'.January 8, 2015, Metro Weekly., retrieved January 10, 2015
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ "/ARTS WEEKLY/VIETNAM: Closet Gays Slowly Coming Out". 20 July 2004. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  25. ^ [2] Archived June 18, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ "Vietnam Media Call Homosexuality "Social Evil," Vow Crackdown". The Body. 19 April 2002. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  27. ^ a b "AEGiS-AFP News: Lifestyle-Vietnam-gays: Vietnam's gays begin to gain recognition - August 3, 2003". 2003-08-03. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  28. ^ Active Travel Vietnam. "Advice for Gay and Lesbian Travellers Travelling Vietnam, Vietnam Travel Tips". Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  29. ^ "Vietnamese high school pupils accepting of homosexuality", PinkNews, reported by Joe Roberts, 26 October 2007
  30. ^ a b "First Transgender Woman Legally Recognized in Vietnam",, 9 September 2012
  31. ^ a b "The first trans-gender legally recognized in Vietnam", VietNamNet, 3 September 2012
  32. ^ (Vietnamese) "Hãy nhìn nhận đồng tính là bình thường", 23 September 2010
  33. ^ (Vietnamese) "Lễ kết hôn đồng giới tại Hà Nội", Viet
  34. ^ "Vietnam's first gay pride parade helps unite the LGBT community", reported by Agence France-Presse, published on the website of The Raw Story, 5 August 2012
  35. ^
  36. ^ Knox, Richard (2007-02-05). "Vietnam Expands Protection for People with HIV". NPR. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  37. ^ ‘Đồng tính nam không được phép hiến máu nhân đạo!’

External links[edit]