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1 Apr 2014

Marriage equality in Vietnam will not help gay people, says activist

Vietnam's move to legislate marriage equality is a ruse to make it look "cool" and promote its new face of modernity for the government has failed to educate the nation's conservative base that recognizes same sex relations as taboo, says a Vietnamese gay activist.

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“Gay marriage is a battle that requires time (and) built upon the acceptance, tolerance, and understanding of the straight society…It appears Vietnam is jumping too far ahead without paving the way in which gay marriage can be celebrated,” said Valentine Vu writing in an editorial for tuoitrenews.vn.
“Vietnamese people are not ready for it because the majority of the population still holds prejudice against homosexuality being a disease, in fear of it being contagious, and afraid of losing face value if a friend/family member is gay,” he pointed out.
Although both male and female same-sex relations is legal and is believed to never have been criminalized in Vietnamese history, society is still heavily prejudiced against the LGBT.
Vietnamese lawmakers say the country is being progressive as it has scrapped fines against marriage between same-sex couples even though the proposed Family and Marriage Bill has not officially been passed. The National Assembly is likely to vote on the issue later in 2014.
Even if the marriage equality bill were passed, more disparities between the people would happen resulting in further isolation of gay families if gay marriage is recognized without any foundation to properly support it, Vu added.
This is because the “the nation’s conservative base still recognizes homosexuality as a taboo act and not as a personal identity,” said the openly gay Vietnamese-Canadian fashion design lecturer and program manager at a design and art center in Ho Chi Minh City.
Some have argued that people who are against gay marriage are uneducated. “It is not fair to make such an assumption when the government, educational system, culture, and even gays don’t take the time to teach and to represent a positive image of homosexuality,” he said.
“What this country needs is the new face of homosexuality, the courage for gays to come out, the celebration of a positive gay culture, and the introduction of gay acknowledgement in the educational system,” said Vu who grew-up in Canada.
To be a positive gay image is a daily struggle, he said. “In public, due to the way I dress, it automatically points out my sexual orientation and that will raise looks, pointed fingers, snickering, and sometimes even vocalized opinions.”
Nonetheless, Vu is lucky he is a teacher because it enables him “to present and influence a positive representation of homosexuality” in front of college-age students.
Vietnam has been governed by a Communist government partly since independence from the colonial French in 1954 and fully since 1975 but has since remained impoverished and politically isolated.
In 1986, the government initiated a series of reforms to begin Vietnam’s path toward integration into the international community.

“Gay marriage is a battle that requires time (and) built upon the acceptance, tolerance, and understanding of the straight society…It appears Vietnam is jumping too far ahead without paving the way in which gay marriage can be celebrated,” said Valentine Vu writing in an editorial for tuoitrenews.vn.

“Vietnamese people are not ready for it because the majority of the population still holds prejudice against homosexuality being a disease, in fear of it being contagious, and afraid of losing face value if a friend/family member is gay,” he pointed out.

Although both male and female same-sex relations is legal and is believed to never have been criminalized in Vietnamese history, society is still heavily prejudiced against the LGBT.

Vietnamese lawmakers say the country is being progressive as it has scrapped fines against marriage between same-sex couples even though the proposed Family and Marriage Bill has not officially been passed. The National Assembly is likely to vote on the issue later in 2014.

Even if the marriage equality bill were passed, more disparities between the people would happen resulting in further isolation of gay families if gay marriage is recognized without any foundation to properly support it, Vu added.

This is because the “the nation’s conservative base still recognizes homosexuality as a taboo act and not as a personal identity,” said the openly gay Vietnamese-Canadian fashion design lecturer and program manager at a design and art center in Ho Chi Minh City.

Some have argued that people who are against gay marriage are uneducated. “It is not fair to make such an assumption when the government, educational system, culture, and even gays don’t take the time to teach and to represent a positive image of homosexuality,” he said.

“What this country needs is the new face of homosexuality, the courage for gays to come out, the celebration of a positive gay culture, and the introduction of gay acknowledgement in the educational system,” said Vu who grew-up in Canada.

To be a positive gay image is a daily struggle, he said. “In public, due to the way I dress, it automatically points out my sexual orientation and that will raise looks, pointed fingers, snickering, and sometimes even vocalized opinions.”

Nonetheless, Vu is lucky he is a teacher because it enables him “to present and influence a positive representation of homosexuality” in front of college-age students.

Vietnam has been governed by a Communist government partly since independence from the colonial French in 1954 and fully since 1975 but has since remained impoverished and politically isolated.

In 1986, the government initiated a series of reforms to begin Vietnam’s path toward integration into the international community.

 

Reader's Comments

1. 2014-04-01 23:20
I can understand this article's viewpoint. But, if the government is ready to legalize same-sex marriage, take the bull by the horns. As marriages begin to happen and families are developed. that in itself is education and awareness. Either way, it will take time for the hetero society to recognize that homosexuality can be acceptable and co-exist next to their lives. At least one major hurdle would have been completed. As with any major society and cultural changes, it takes time for the majority to begin to accept that change. We are seeing this happen in America. Church leaders are still trying to demonize homosexuality as a mortal sin. But, through time, education and exposure, many church members are beginning to see and accept LGBT issues as being legitimate and change being needed. Eventually, and hopefully, this change will happen. And, as more and more countries in the developed world begin to accept same-sex marriage, and there is a track record of successful gay families living in the society without adverse effects, one day this issue will not longer be an issue. It will just be part of every day life all across the world. Those who oppose this issue will become the minority and lose their voice for bigotry, discrimination and hate speech against the overwhelming majority who will accept it as every day life.
2. 2014-04-02 01:36
Being a Vietnamese Canadian as Vu, I understand where he is coming from but I disagree to say that it would not help the LGBT communities in Vietnam. There are always people who hold prejudice against gay people everywhere, even here in Canada or the developed world. Maybe there are just more of them in Vietnam. What I'm focusing at is at least gay people are protected and not criminalized under the Law in Vietnam. That's at least the first step for Vietnam! Look at recent news in Uganda where it's not even safe to be gay, I would appreciate any progress anywhere, even if it's just to look "cool" as per Vu...
3. 2014-04-02 01:59
I agree with #1 and #2. With this reasoning, removing segregation in the 1960es' US was wrong because the population was not ready. Which was true for some people, but then law had to be respected!

Too much negativity is... negative.
4. 2014-04-02 03:27

I have been to Vietnam many times. The people are warm
and friendly but they do have a conservative element. The
gay upward mobile class should organize and move into
sections of the larger cites. This would create a political gay
voice in city government. It will take time and money but
they just need to keep on trying. If they pass he law it's
one less hurdle to overcome.
Comment edited on 2014-04-02 14:39:18
5. 2014-04-02 07:06
Everyone of you are viewing the situation from a different type of government remember Vietnam is governed by a Communist government. It does make a difference. I do agree with most of what you all have writted, and as an American I lived through the early struggles from stone wall on. Laws passed mean nothing if they arent inforced.
6. 2014-04-02 11:49
It is... a first step and better than none at all... time will tell. All good comments here.
Comment #7 was deleted by its author on 2014-04-02 11:51
Comment #8 was deleted by its author on 2014-04-02 11:51
Comment #9 was deleted by its author on 2014-04-02 11:51
Comment #10 was deleted by its author on 2014-04-02 11:50
Comment #11 was deleted by its author on 2014-04-02 11:50
Comment #12 was deleted by its author on 2014-04-03 12:39
13. 2014-04-02 18:09
Hello all,

Thank you Fridae for re-posting my article that I've written last year in 2013 when the whole country of Vietnam was excited, anticipated, and even throwing rocks at the possibility of equal marriage. After written this article I had as much cheers as well as jeers coming from all over the board (including the LGBT community). They say that I was being negative and why not accept or at least be happy for such opportunity. Yet few took the time to actually read the article from top to bottom ^.^ and totally missed my main point.

My main argument is that there is no such thing as equal marriage in Vietnam let alone gay marriage. When the cultural difference between male and female (superior vs. inferior) is still present throughout the country, being gay is inferior to even being a woman. I have lived here for 6 years and I felt no change in gender equality let alone gender identity. So which should come first? gender identity where one take pride and loving oneself for who they are, or marriage equality when the average woman is still on the street breaking her back while her husband is drinking day in and out? Maybe it is only in parts of the country that is like that and you don't see it in the big city; but those "parts" are the majority of the people.

Sure you can take the bull by the horn and have whatever the law is throwing into the public, but without gay pride, and pride as human beings, it seems "gay marriage" will just be another step that will lead to "gay divorce". So what are we fighting for? The right to love or the right to be recognized by the law? If it is the right to love, haven't we been doing it for so long and so beautifully? Being gay is more than just a legal marriage paper, just keep on loving and keep on going despite what the law said...

But honestly, deep down, I truly hope that Vietnam does pass the law. But so far, there is no change even until now. Human rights first before gay rights for such country like my mother's country. I'm glad that Vietnam does not physically persecute gays legally; and generally most people are sympathetic, took pity towards gays as long that homosexuality is not in their family.

Last year, shortly after this article is written, a lot of young gays attacked me verbally calling me a traitor to the LGBT community. Then shortly after, a student of mine and her girlfriend came out to their family. The girlfriend's father beat the his own daughter out of frustration and shame until she was hospitalize. They ended their relationship now, and all that is left are pain, longing, regret as one of the girl will get married to a man. So, marriage is not just between 2 person, it is between both families, the community, and the neighbourhood, and Asian families is one messy relationship chart with the importance still focus on face value. As Asian in general were never taught to celebrate their individuality, but to always think and act as a tight knit unit.

But I still have hope that one day the world will change, but for now, can we love ourselves a little longer...Valentine Vu

Comment edited on 2014-04-02 20:42:57
14. 2014-04-03 03:04
It's the same everywhere in the world. The law must lead public opinion, based of course on human rights. Every unjust law or backward social attitude throughout history has only been corrected by people taking a stand in the face of ignorance - enduring the beatings if necessary for the sake of the long term objective. Of course there will be pain and broken relationships in the process, but if the Vietnamese govt passes this law, only good can come from it. It is a first but very strong and positive step, and hiding away, as the author seems to be suggesting, will achieve nothing. I personally don't want to get married, but I at least now have a choice in the UK. That choice should be available to everyone.
15. 2014-04-03 03:04
It's the same everywhere in the world. The law must lead public opinion, based of course on human rights. Every unjust law or backward social attitude throughout history has only been corrected by people taking a stand in the face of ignorance - enduring the beatings if necessary for the sake of the long term objective. Of course there will be pain and broken relationships in the process, but if the Vietnamese govt passes this law, only good can come from it. It is a first but very strong and positive step, and hiding away, as the author seems to be suggesting, will achieve nothing. I personally don't want to get married, but I at least now have a choice in the UK. That choice should be available to everyone.
16. 2014-04-03 08:40
I'm in agreement with most posters here. Sure, I am Caucasian and in Canada, but we fought a similar battle and won. I read the article and think I got the point, but disagree.
There is an assertion in the article that the writer is subject to sniggers, jeers etc...but that seems to be about his attire.... attire which he somehow attributes to being "gay". He stereotypes himself.
I am gay, I do not wear outlandish or cutting-edge apparel and I enjoy motor sports and "masculine" things...and I am very out.
Unfortunately I see that this writer has an internalized bias, but I also see that the very important first steps to "equality" have been taken in law. And after being sooooo long in arriving one cannot expect to "feel" an instant change.
It takes time...and decriminalization is a HUGE step for which you should feel very grateful.
17. 2014-04-03 08:40
I'm in agreement with most posters here. Sure, I am Caucasian and in Canada, but we fought a similar battle and won. I read the article and think I got the point, but disagree.
There is an assertion in the article that the writer is subject to sniggers, jeers etc...but that seems to be about his attire.... attire which he somehow attributes to being "gay". He stereotypes himself.
I am gay, I do not wear outlandish or cutting-edge apparel and I enjoy motor sports and "masculine" things...and I am very out.
Unfortunately I see that this writer has an internalized bias, but I also see that the very important first steps to "equality" have been taken in law. And after being sooooo long in arriving one cannot expect to "feel" an instant change.
It takes time...and decriminalization is a HUGE step for which you should feel very grateful.
18. 2014-04-03 12:50
valentinevu, it is a pity the Gay Asia News and Fridae articles distorted your thinking. What you say is very clear, and valid.

I hope Vietnamese society gets more tolerant in the whole and global human rights are respected (like in other societies of Asia and other parts of the world). It may not be possible without a fundamental change in the political system.
Comment edited on 2014-04-03 12:59:13
19. 2014-04-05 20:00
To Vu's post: I appreciate your thoughts about gay right in Vietnam. Truely, it is a struggle for gays globally, not only just in Vietnam particularly. Your first post and second post counter act on each other. As the very first post of your " gay marriage was just being "cool" acknowlegement in the Viet society. Then, you went into another different aspect of gay struggle after other comments ensused on your second post. Your thought of being gay in a communist country and the acceptance of gay marriage are 2 different arguements. Therefore, I will stick to your first post of argument as legalizing gay marriage is only "cool" to you. First off, look at the fact that a 3rd world country as Vietnam accepting gay marriage. HUGE ! Compared to the United States, a innovative country but taking all those years to slowly move gay rights and gay marriage to federal level. VIETNAM, don't you know how hard it is growng up and being gay in Vietnam as there were NONE resourses or information to learn about it, even internet. but NOW, the government in VIETNAM, accepting gay marriage and gender reidentification (transgender community) in vietnam within the past 5 YEARS. that is quite a progressive change in Vietnam i assure you. For you to say, it is only a "COOL" thing to do, then why don't you ask what you have known about being gay in Vietnam under the society and family pressure. Being gay and being recognized gay love DON'T need "gay pride" or "gay circus" to prove that. The gay marriage recognition is a hard work of GLBT group alone in vietnam that has been fighting so hard under the communist society, it is way different from other GLBT group in western world, where they have more support and resourses to raise their voices to the government and stil they are fighting for their own freedom of love.
Your second post leans toward human right issue that we are desperately needing to change in vietnam. For sure, i agree with you on this, that is the truth of matter. US, as vietnamese living in western countries, what can we do instead of posting our own opinions regarding issues without even THINKING of what else we can contribute to change such issues in vietnam. We can have opinions, yet but opionions without real actions will only words with no meaning to it.
Iam glad you brough this up, because it has been a thought of mine as well.
20. 2014-04-06 10:59
0. May be Vietnam is better than many other countries that Religion become lader to get power and when some Religion/Myth business involve in Human life that regard Hollybook Author as God.
So that Fake God replacing True God.
- you see problems/discrimination to LGBT in Asia-Africa Countries, Even in USA ( stonewall case) that made many Gay run away by violence.
Gay Mariage in USA was New ( not in the past)

-Ofcourse it is against God that created Gay/LGBT
because God did not created Hollybook.

- Even Anti-gay written in their Hollybook as I often Heard Religion Leader Preaching.
But Here we can see why? It is because they are afraid of going to Heaven that They created by theirselves. or may be they knew that Heaven they created by their imagination was fake.

- I do not know exactly if Vietnam society hate Gay, because I only see by myself and you had seen by yourselves in your countries respectively, How they discriminate gay/LGBT for years.

- you also should suspicious why some people spreading Religions because If Religion is true love and True Heaven, Then none would spread Religions and None Preach Religions.

1. woman and man were no marriage at past, they need years to make Legal marriage by making Reasons and you must know what Reasons.

2. It is the same thing with LGBT, If you just asking for marriage because you want, then there will be no marriage.

3. You must know what the impact of LGBT marriage to others?

4. You Must also know the character of Law Makers, They will not make Law if you do not help them to make Law.

5. you also must know History How The Law Maker Hold Law? because There were existing Law both written or unwritten, they did not make Law because no capabilities. no ability of wisdom because there is no wisdom school.


Wisdom can not be thought. It mean that The wisdom today is not Wisdom for tomorrow. Wisdom is pure Talents.

There is no Wisdom school but Wisdom Registration and Wisdom Operation School...Wisdom can not be thought by Teacher.

6. Sometimes Law Made by Riots, Mean that If you want Law Maker Make Law then Just Make Riots. ( Riots can be regarded as Peace by some people)
But it is depend on who are stronger.

you may see many Riots, Hate, Libel, Terror at everywhere in The world.

7. Law is about Power or solution, it is not about Love ( for countries who have no Love). so you must understand what kind of country you are in and what Kind of people that are Law Maker.

8. But if UNO really want to create peace, then there should be many countries having own religions respectively, having own prophets, having own myth, having own hollybook. and there must be Countries without Religion.

If you had been in School, perhaps you will learn on how to evaluate items as measurements.

If every country having the same religion than you will not find the truth but fake and complexity problems. you will not see true light as well.

Or do they Really have Plan for making Riots?
we see that none countries have no Plan.

This planned problems are extraordinary crime.
and you also know what is punishment for this Plan.
You may search to every Ministry or every government body. what their plan, long plans?
or Their crime plan are secret? what syndicate is this?

9. Do you think the way of Noah prophet to wipe out Human by Flood was correct ? that was darkness in Human life, i think.

And you know that no punishment for them. what ever they made. it is Sinful.
Comment edited on 2014-04-06 18:35:57
21. 2014-04-07 04:48
Vietnam has the chance of being a very secular society where religions are kept under strict control. In many other countries, in Europe, and as far as I can understand in Asia and America, the most voiceful against gay rights, gay recognition by society, and the last bit which is gay marriage, are the religious, from all religions.

Being a secular country, I am confident the Vietnamese society will evolve positively in its attitude towards LGBT, especially once the marriage equality law is passed.
22. 2014-04-07 04:49
Vietnam has the chance of being a very secular society where religions are kept under strict control. In many other countries, in Europe, and as far as I can understand in Asia and America, the most voiceful against gay rights, gay recognition by society, and the last bit which is gay marriage, are the religious, from all religions.

Being a secular country, I am confident the Vietnamese society will evolve positively in its attitude towards LGBT, especially once the marriage equality law is passed.
23. 2014-04-07 04:54
Vietnam has the chance of being a very secular society where religions are kept under strict control. In many other countries, in Europe, and as far as I can understand in Asia and America, the most voiceful against gay rights, gay recognition by society, and the last bit which is gay marriage, are the religious, from all religions.

Being a secular country, I am confident the Vietnamese society will evolve positively in its attitude towards LGBT, especially once the marriage equality law is passed.
24. 2014-04-09 22:22
as usual the younger age groups are more accepting of gay marriage in most countries!
25. 2014-04-09 22:24
as usual the younger age groups are more accepting of gay marriage in most countries!

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