Vietnam’s legislature passed its amended family law on Thursday which newly allowed surrogacy within families and failed to recognize same-sex marriage.
The amended Family and Marriage Law passed with nearly 60 percent of votes from the National Assembly and will take effect starting next year.
Under the amended law, surrogacy will only be allowed among married childless couples after doctors confirm the mother is unable to give birth even with technical support.
The surrogate must be a sister or cousin within three generations of either the husband or wife, and have given birth successfully.
A woman is allowed to be a surrogate only once in her life and must produce her husband’s approval if she’s married.
The process must be voluntary for all parties involved and follow in-vitro fertilization regulations.
Medical costs and any childcare must be paid by the infertile couple.
Surrogacy as a commercial service has been illegally provided by poor women in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
The government is unable to protect those involved, especially the babies, when conflicts arise.
Surrogacy is illegal in many Western countries including France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Sweden, as well as in China and Japan.
Same-sex marriages? No
The law no longer specifically prohibits same-sex marriages, but says they aren't recognized by the government.
It does not allow same-sex partnership either, although the issue has been open for discussion during many house meetings.
Gay rights activists have expressed great frustration after news of the changes came to light in a May draft law.
Le Quang Binh, head of the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE), said: “The bill continues to discriminate against homosexuals and their families, and fails to protect the children who grow up in families of two mothers or two fathers.”
Binh said millions of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people will continue to face social bias and abuse.
He said the public has actually been progressive on the matter.
An iSEE nationwide survey in 2013 found that 57 percent of people supported same sex couples to raise children together and 51 percent supported their rights to legally share assets.
Vietnam, which has a population of 90 million, has an estimated 1.65 million LGBT people.
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