Surprisingly to many, Vietnam – country with socialist government ruling the country since the end of the war, seems to be a leading ASEAN member country in gradually but surely recognizing LGBT rights and embracing its LGBT community as well as travellers. It would be great if some other member countries with much more liberal and democratically elected governments (as Singapore for example) follow Vietnam’s lead.
How it changed in the past five years?
2011 – LOST IN PARADISE – Gay themed film
Released in Vietnamese cinemas on October 2011.
Lost in Paradise is a 2011 Vietnamese drama film directed by Vũ Ngọc Đãng. Its original title is Rebellious Hot Boy and the Story of Cười, the Prostitute and the Duck (Hot boy nổi loạn và câu chuyện về thằng Cười, cô gái điếm và con vịt), shortened to Rebellious Hot Boy (Hot boy nổi loạn) or simply Hot Boy. The film is set in Ho Chi Minh City and has two separate story lines. The first depicts a love triangle between three men, Khôi, Lam, and Đông, amidst a backdrop of male prostitution. The second concerns a mentally-handicapped man, Cười, his friendship with Hạnh, a female prostitute, and his attempts to raise a duckling. The film was a strong critical and commercial success in Vietnam. It has been shown at several international festivals, from which it garnered more mixed reviews. In particular its portrayal of homosexuality has been noted as ground breaking within the context of Vietnamese cinema.
2012 – Viet-Pride
After the local government’s announcement of considering legalizing same-sex marriage, the Vietnamese LGBT community organized the very first Viet Pride in August 2012
2014 – First ASEAN PRIDE
Viet Pride, and CAMA ATK Hanoi, the first ASEAN Pride was the largest government-sanctioned LGBT event in 2014.
2015 – Vietnam Lifts Ban on Same-Sex Marriage
On the very first day of 2015, the Vietnamese government abolished the ban on same-sex marriage and has led the gay rights movement. The change in law does not go fully recognizing same-sex unions and dose not grant LGBT couples with equal marriage rights but its a huge step forward in the movement. In truth the new law turns a blind eye to same-sex unions.
2015 – LGBT Business Forum Hanoi
The LGBT Business Leader Forum took place the Hotel Sofitel Plaza Hanoi on 7 December. It has been organized by business LGBT market and consulting group, MB Market Makers. Companies represented at the event will include IBM, KPMG, PWC, McKenzie and BMVN.
Speakers participating include: Ted Osius, the US Ambassador to Vietnam; Tony Tenicela, Workforce Diversity and LGBT Markets, IBM; Tam Nguyen, chairman of Viet Pride; and Camilla Mellander, Sweden’s Ambassador to Vietnam, among others.
Ambassador Osius has become something of a gay figurehead in the country in recent months. He took up his position last December, bringing with him his husband, Clayton Bond, and the couple’s toddler son. The two have also since adopted a baby girl.