Gay-lesbian marriages gaining currency in Vietnam

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 Young people participate in a bicycle parade in Hanoi August 5, which part of a gay festival called Viet Pride

Trung is yet to find a suitable girl.

The 27-year-old Hanoian is under pressure from his family to settle down so he is looking for a life partner.

The women he has considered so far have not met his needs.

The first condition is that she has to be a lesbian. 

Trung is gay, but his family does not know that.

He expects marriage with a lesbian would be perfect for him, as they can be friends for life, helping each other hide their sexual orientations.

So far, he has rejected several candidates, either because they were "too manly" or had too many financial demands.

Despite the difficulties involved, a gay-les marriage is seen as a favorable solution among the LGBT community in Vietnam, most of whom expect little or no sympathy and understanding if they come out.

A forum called "thegioithu3", meaning "third world" has received several hundred gay-les proposals in the last year or so.

Such couples can share their money, and each can bring their own romantic or sexual partners home but have to be discreet to avoid suspicion, Trung told news website VnExpress in a Wednesday report.

His plan does not include a divorce, Trung said, explaining that he can live the rest of his life under the cover of a legal marriage and that he can also have sex with his lesbian partner to have children.

"I love having kids, and in vitro fertilization is unnecessary as it is too costly. I have had sex with women and it was actually not painful or difficult. I just did not feel anything," Trung said.

A lesbian named Xuan, who introduces herself as a 31-year-old government worker from Ho Chi Minh City, said she is looking for a gay person with a stable job to be her partner and have children via IVF.

"My family has always wished for a grandchild. I also love children and want to be a mom," Xuan said on a forum.

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She said she's looking for a gay person in the same situation. "I hope we can be good father and mother, and that our child will have the right to live with their real sexual orientation when they grow up."

Jerry Minh Quan, who established the "thegioithu3" forum around ten years ago, said the gay-les marriage has been popular in cases where "insiders" are being pressurized by their family and they do not want to hurt loved ones who are straight.

"Every day, there're several people posting such proposals on the forum," Quan said.

The two partners would live together under their own contracts which include provisions on divorce (such as a minimum period before such a step can be taken); and having children (whether or not to have kids); and sharing of assets.

Le Quang Binh, head of the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment, said "Marriages between gays and lesbians cannot solve the root of the problem, that is to let the insiders be themselves.

"But when same-sex marriage is yet to be recognized, and when families and the society are yet to have a right understanding of LGBT people, such marriages will be resorted to so as to create a cover for themselves."

Same-sex marriage in Vietnam is outlawed by the Law on Marriage and Family issued in 2000, but the demand to repeal this provision has been increasing.

A lesbian couple organized a wedding party with their parents and around 150 guests in Binh Duong Province outside Ho Chi Minh City on July 28.

Weeks earlier, authorities in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang fined a family in May for organizing a public celebration of their son's marriage to another man.

A few years ago, a lesbian couple in the southern province of Ca Mau was also fined for organizing a similar wedding ceremony.

The Ministry of Justice is now collecting opinions from social organizations and related agencies about making same sex marriages legal.

Binh's institute helped organize the first gay festival in Vietnam (Aug 3-5), drawing the participation of many young people including those from the LGBT community. The festival included conferences, film screenings and a bicycle parade in Hanoi.

Viet Pride is the Vietnamese version of Pride Parades, a worldwide event begun in New York in 1969 celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture.

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