Vietnam backs United Nations' LGBT rights mandate; Asia mostly looks away

Thanh Nien News

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A girl holds the rainbow LGBT flag at a campaign for same-sex marriage in Hanoi. Photo: Ngu Thien A girl holds the rainbow LGBT flag at a campaign for same-sex marriage in Hanoi. Photo: Ngu Thien

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The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday voted to appoint an independent monitor to protect the rights of gay and transgender people around the world, with support from half of the council’s seats including Vietnam.
Vietnam is among 23 members of the 47-seat council that voted in favor of the resolution. It is one of three supporters from Asia, together with Mongolia and South Korea. The rest of the support came mostly from Europe and Latin America.
Six countries abstained, including India, South Africa and the Philippines.
The 18 opposition votes came from China, Russia, and most African and Muslim countries. The US currently does not sit on the council.
The appointed envoy will be charged with identifying the root causes of violence and discrimination against LGBT people and talking with governments about ways to protect them.
Homosexual activities are illegal in 70 countries, and treated as a capital offense at some.
Some human rights activists said the recent mass shooting in Orlando played a role in pushing the decision forward, as it forced some governments to take the matter much more seriously, according to a Washington Post report.
Vietnam has been considered one of the more liberal countries over LGBT issues, by giving space for gay rights movements and providing the community certain legal recognition.
The country last November passed a law to recognize gender reassignment and had earlier lifted a ban on same-sex marriage ceremonies. Same-sex couples, however, have not been granted legal marital status.

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