LGBT rights in Vietnam
|Status||No laws against homosexuality in recorded Vietnamese history|
|Gender identity||Transgender people may change legal gender after surgery|
|Military||Lesbian, gay and bisexual people may serve openly|
|Recognition of relationships||No|
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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 are legal and are believed to never have been criminalized in Vietnamese history. 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 taboo, awareness surrounding LGBT rights has risen during the 21st century. Reports of discrimination against LGBT people are not uncommon, however, with about 20% of LGBT people reported being beaten by family members when coming out.
In November 2016, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Israel, Thailand, East Timor, Nepal, Georgia, Turkey, Sri Lanka and Mongolia were the only Asian countries in the United Nations to vote in favor of the appointment of an independent expert to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by the LGBT community and to find ways to properly protect them. The creation of the new post was being protested against by the African Group.
Law regarding same-sex sexual activity
Same-sex sexual acts are not criminal offenses. In fact, many historians believe that homosexuality was never addressed in the nation's Criminal Code. The Penal Code indicates that the age of consent in Vietnam is 16 regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
In July 2012, the Vietnamese Minister of Justice announced that the Government had started a consultation on whether to legalize same-sex marriage. In June 2013, the Ministry of Justice submitted a bill that would remove the ban on same-sex marriage, enacted in 1992, from the Marriage and Family Law and provide some rights to cohabiting same-sex couples. The National Assembly debated it in October 2013.
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 bill. The bill was approved by the National Assembly on 19 June 2014. On 1 January 2015, the amendments to the Marriage and Family Law officially went into effect. It states that while Vietnam allows same-sex weddings, it will not offer legal recognition or protection to unions between people of the same sex. Despite the limitation, the Vietnamese LGBT community are optimistic that this latest legislation is an important stepping stone. Jamie Gillen, a National University of Singapore sociology researcher, also stated that Vietnam's relaxation of stance contrasts with Vietnam's neighbors such as Singapore. Vietnam's neighbors forbid same-sex marriages. It is estimated that such relaxed policies will attract tourism revenue as Vietnam attempts to promote themselves as a tolerant and friendly society.
Gender identity and expression
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 sex reassignment surgery. Such operations were previously illegal, forcing people to travel to nearby Thailand for the surgery. The legislation allows those who have undergone sex reassignment to register under their preferred sex. The law went into effect in January 2017.
In Vietnam, one can serve in the Armed Forces irrespective of one's sexual orientation. Military service is compulsory for men from the age of 18, while women may volunteer.
In 2001, a survey found that 82% of Vietnamese believed homosexuality "is never acceptable".
In 2007, HCMC University of Pedagogy conducted a poll of 300 pupils at three junior high and high schools and discovered that 80% of pupils answered "no" when asked, "Is homosexuality bad?"
A March 2014 poll indicated that 53% of Vietnamese were against same-sex marriage.
An October 2016 opinion poll showed that a plurality (45%) of Vietnamese supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, with 25% against and 30% answering "don't know".
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.
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 same-sex couples. Publications such as The Gioi Phu Nu and Tiep Thi Va Gia Dinh spoke of homosexuality as a disease and "deviant behavior that is incompatible with the good morals and time-honored customs of Vietnam."
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".
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."
In 2009, Pham Le Quynh Tram became the first transgender woman to be legally recognized by Vietnamese authorities as a woman. As such, she was allowed to redefine her sex from male to female and to legally change her name to Pham Le Quynh Tram. However, according to a report from the Huffington Post, her official recognition was apparently withdrawn in late January 2013.
In September 2010, Tuoi Tre Online, the internet edition of the 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". 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.
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.
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.
From September 18, 2017 to September 24, 2017, Vietnam's Hanoi Pride took place for a 5th consecutive year. The event hosted thousands of people, compared to only about a hundred at the first pride parade. Irish drag queen, Panti Bliss, attended the event.
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.
|Same-sex sexual activity legal||(Always legal)|
|Equal age of consent||(Always equal)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in employment only|
|Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services|
|Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)|
|Recognition of same-sex couples|
|Adoption for single people regardless of sexual orientation|
|Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples|
|Joint adoption by same-sex couples|
|Gays, lesbians and bisexuals allowed to serve openly in the military|
|Right to change legal gender||(Since 2017)|
|Access to IVF for lesbians|
|Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples|
|MSMs allowed to donate blood||(Not prohibited)|
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