Vietnam: Health Ministry recommends legalisation of same-sex marriage

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Vietnam’s Health Ministry has recommended that same-sex marriage should be legalised, citing research which shows the stigmatisation faced by LGBT people can have serious health repercussions

The Vietnamese government began considering recognition for same-sex couples in July last year, and on 16 April held a review on the Law on Marriage and Family, which currently prohibits marriage between same-sex couples.

TuoiTre and VietnamNet report that the Health Ministry submitted recommendations that same-sex marriage be legalised to promote the health and wellbeing of LGBT people, and to respect their human rights.

The Deputy Health Minister, Nguyen Viet Tien, told the government that everyone has the right to “live with what one actually has” – which includes accepting the identities of the country’s LGBT population.

“In the angle of human rights, homosexuals also have right to live, eat, wear, love and be loved and pursue happiness. In the angle of citizenship, they have the right to work, study, have medial examination and treatment, register birth, death, marry…. and have rights and perform the obligations with the State and society,” he said.

He spoke of the need to promote acceptance of gay couples, citing research carried out by Vietnam’s Institute of Social, Economic and Environment Research (ISEE).

ISEE found that 90% of LGBT people polled had experienced homophobic and transphobic attitudes in society, with many saying their own family and friends had expressed such views to them.

This was so widespread that up to 86% of the 1,800 LGBT people who responded said they felt unable to come out.

Others said they had experienced harassment or abuse, or had been forced to undergo gay cure therapy. 15% had been verbally abused by their families, 6.5% were unemployed, 4.5% had been beaten, and 4.1% had been kicked out of their homes. This all contributed to potential physical and mental ill health, said Mr Tien.

Other groups were strongly against changing the law. The Hanoi People’s Committee and the Vietnam Women’s Union responded to the consultation opposing the acceptance of same-sex unions, saying it was against Vietnamese culture.

Yesterday the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave an impassioned speech voicing his support for LGBT rights, saying “We should all be outraged when people suffer discrimination, assault, and even murder, simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”

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