LGBT rights in Vietnam

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LGBT rights in Vietnam
Same-sex sexual activity legal? No recorded laws against homosexuality throughout Vietnamese history are known
Recognition of
No recognition of same-sex couples
Same-sex marriage prohibited by statute
Discrimination protections 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 are legal in Vietnam, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.

Criminal Code

Homosexuality is not a crime provided that it involves noncommercial acts between consenting adults in private. In fact many historians believe that homosexuality was never addressed in the nation's criminal code[1] .

Male prostitution and public sex are illegal and establishments or people found to be involved in such behavior can be sentenced to long prison terms[2] .

The criminal code does prohibit the "undermining public morality". This vague law could be used to harass gay people or gay rights organizations.

Civil Rights

In 2000, crime journalist Bui Anh Tam's novel "A World Without Women" was the first fictional Vietnamese book to deal extensively with gay people. In 2007 the story was turned into a television series[3] .

In 2001, a survey of Vietnamese found that 82% felt that homosexuality was never acceptable,[4] . The socially conservative morality is believed to be a result of the Confucian emphasis on family and tradition.

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[5] . 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."[2]. Although there are some possible signs that more liberal opinions may exist.

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"[6] .

In 2007, HCMC University of Pedagogy conducted the poll of 300 pupils at three junior high and high schools and discovered that 80% of pupils all said "no" when asked "is homosexuality bad?"

On November 29, the first foreign gay wedding was held in Hanoi, Vietnam, between a Japanese and an Irish national. The wedding raised much attention in the gay and lesbian community in Vietnam.[7]

Controversial film director Le Hoang, 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."[2] .

Marriage & Family

Marriage is defined as a union between two adults of the opposite sex. Though they are not constitutionally banned, the law does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnership benefits. Previous laws against all forms of cohabitation were repealed under a new marriage law approved by the parliament in 2000.[8]


The AIDS-HIV pandemic has put pressure on the government to address the issue of men who have sex with other men, irrespective of their marital status or how they may chose to identify themselves[9] .

In 2006, the government enacted legislation to protect citizens infected with HIV or AIDS from discrimination and health care is provided to all its citizens free[10] .

See also


  1. The Legality of Homosexuality in Vietnam. (2009-02-21). Retrieved on 2009-05-01.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 AEGiS-AFP News: Lifestyle-Vietnam-gays: Vietnam's gays begin to gain recognition - August 3, 2003. (2003-08-03). Retrieved on 2009-05-01.
  3. /ARTS WEEKLY/VIETNAM: Closet Gays Slowly Coming Out. (2004-07-20). Retrieved on 2009-05-01.
  4. [1]
  5. Vietnam Media Call Homosexuality "Social Evil," Vow Crackdown. The Body (2002-04-19). Retrieved on 2009-05-01.
  6. Active Travel Vietnam. Advice for Gay and Lesbian Travellers Travelling Vietnam, Vietnam Travel Tips. Retrieved on 2009-05-01.
  8. Vietnam Revised Marriage Family Law
  9. UNAIDS Việt Nam. Retrieved on 2009-05-01.
  10. Knox, Richard (2007-02-05). Vietnam Expands Protection for People with HIV. NPR. Retrieved on 2009-05-01.

External links


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