Jun 16, 2013

Vietnam - Same-sex marriage to be discussed in Parliament

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VietNamNet Bridge - National Assembly (NA) deputies have confirmed that the legal provisions relating to homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders need to be discussed in the upcoming session.

For gay people, it is more difficult to overcome social prejudice than legal problems.

The Institute for Legislative Studies in collaboration with the Institute of Economic, Social and Environmental Research (iSEE) recently held a workshop entitled “Homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT): The law and views of the community.” This is the first time NA deputies having a direct dialogue with the LGBT community.

Change should be made from the Constitution

Mr. Dinh Xuan Thao, Director of the Institute for Legislative Studies, said the 1992 Constitution stipulates that all citizens are equal before the law, so that no one is allowed to discriminate, harm the rights and interests of those in the LGBT community. It is also stipulated in the Constitution that men and women are free to marry.

However, the recognition of same-sex marriage or not is still in discussion in Vietnam. However, the provision invisibly rejects the "people who are not male or female" out of the scope of law. The Constitution of some countries uses the word “people" or "citizens" so it is more general than “men” and “woman” as in the Constitution of Vietnam.

"Maybe in the near future the law still does not recognize gay marriage, but the Constitution is the original legislation so it should have provisions of sustainability. These rules are also the basis for the issuance of legal documents that are directly related to homosexuals, such as the Marriage and Family Law, the Civil Code and the Law on Gender Equality. In the coming time, we will suggest to put this issue for people’s comment to complete the draft amendment to the Constitution," said Thao.

Ms. Le Thi Nga, Deputy Chair of the NA Judiciary Committee, said that this is the first time she directly listened to the emotional sharing of the insiders. "We must change the perception of the LGBT community a social reality. Rights and interests of these people directly related to so many other people so in the future, many laws, including the Constitution, must be discussed at the NA," Nga said.

Preconception must be abolished before fixing the law

Mr. Le Quang Binh, Director of iSEE, said: "The biggest barrier to the LGBT community in Vietnam is the prejudice and social stigma. Therefore, it is necessary to take measures to change people's perceptions, and change the laws to protect homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders."

According to Mr. Tran Ngoc Vinh, Vice Head of the NA delegation Hai Phong City, ensuring rights of the LGBT is also guaranteeing human rights. Therefore, Vietnam should issue legal documents to promote the people, the society’s different perspective on gay people to create momentum for change at a higher level.

Professor Nguyen Minh Thuyet - former Vice Chairman of the NA Committee of Culture, Education for Youth and Children – said that it is more important to find ways to remove social prejudice against gays and then to consider changing the law. He said: "It is the time for NA deputies to think and research further on issues related to the LGBT community to protect the legitimate rights and interests of them and the people involved."

To date there is no formal survey to determine the number of homosexuals in Vietnam. However, many studies in the world show that about 1-9 percent of the sexually active age group identify themselves gays and bisexuals.

If we take the average rate of 3 percent, which is accepted by many scientists, Vietnam has more than 1.6 million of LGBT at the age of 15-49 (based on population statistics in 2007.)

According to Professor Nguyen Minh Thuyet, the homosexuals, bisexuals or transgenders admitting their true gender benefits society and themselves. However, various studies conducted by iSEE from 2009 to 2012 showed similar results on the reticence of gays in the disclosure of their sexual orientation.

In 2009, with the male gays interviewed, only 2.5 percent fully opened about their sexual orientation and almost 5 percent were nearly opened. Meanwhile, 32.5 percent completely kept secret of their sexual orientation and 35 percent almost entirely kept secret. The remaining 25 percent were between “keeping secret and coming out," depending on the environment. Homosexuals did not dare to open themselves even to their families.

P. Lan

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