Gay people in Vietnam are now finding far greater social acceptance making it more confident for them to live with their identity and interact with society despite traditional challenges.
“More LGBT people have become confident to live with their identity,” said Tran Khac Tung, director of ICS Center, the Ho Chi Minh City-based group for LGBT rights, according to thanhniennews.com.
Talking about a recent survey to review five years of LGBT advocacy, he pointed out that 44 percent of the 3,214 LGBT people polled said they witnessed a positive change in society’s attitude towards them. In addition, 37 percent said they were confident to come out.
The survey also showed gay Vietnamese coming out at an early age due to a welcoming social environment. It showed 78 percent had come out already, 74 percent recognized their sexual identity between ages 10 and 20 and that 56 percent needed less than a year to accept their sexuality.
About 20 percent of the respondents said they were pleased that the Vietnamese government had begun to recognize them while half that number noted there have been many official activities for the LGBT community.
However, nearly half of the respondents said they are often victims of discrimination with up to 97 percent admitting to being discriminated against at least once either in their family, school or workplace.
This maybe because many Vietnamese people wanting to propagate their familyname may feel prejudiced against same-sex relations and afraid of losing face value if a friend/family member is gay.
Nonetheless, traditional cultural mores are changing. Nha Trang, a mother and mother-in-law of straight, transsexual, gay, and bisexual people said stigma her children have to suffer in society makes her angry: "When I see my children or other LGBT people facing discrimination, I get a throbbing pain.”
A lesbian couple on Valentine’s Day even celebrated their wedding onboard a Vietjet flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok on Valentine’s Day. The wedding was widely publicized on Thanhnien News, the Vietnam National Youth Federation publication. The couple have been together for 13 years.
Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Vietnam but last month the government repealed a law that actively criminalized gay weddings. It is the first country in South East Asia to make such a move. Until 2000 it was illegal for gay couples in Vietnam to even live together, with the Vietnamese government describing same-sex relations as a “social evil.”