Vietnam moves to decriminalize, not recognize gay marriage

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Two same-sex couples kiss during their public wedding at a public lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) event in Hanoi October 27. Photo: Reuters

Legislative officials have cricticized Vietnam's draft law over gay marriage as "indecisive" as it lifts the ban on gay marriage but maintains the stance of not formally recognizing such unions.

The proposed Family and Marriage Law extends the definition of marriage to include heterosexual unions, yet also says: "The government does not acknowledge gay marriage."

It also adds regulations aimed at resolving conflicts in gay partnerships such as property ownership, parental rights and responsibilities.

Deputy Dao Van Binh said as the draft was presented at a house session Thursday that it is open to some extent as it acquiesces to gay wedding, but the problem is it at the same time does not take gay marriage official.

Binh called the law "ambivalent."

Dinh Xuan Thao, director of the National Institute of Legislative Studies, also expressed doubt over the proposed law.

Yet Thao said the draft law reflects an inevitable transition in Vietnam's stance on the sensitive matter.

Duong Dang Hue, director of the Administrative Law Department at the Justice Ministry and a member of the group that wrote of the draft, rejected the criticism, saying people need to look at its "progressive" elements.

"We begin by ceasing to treat gay marriage a taboo. We respect human rights."

Hue said gay marriage is officially recognized in 16 countries, mostly Western nations and none in Asia. "We are making big changes."

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The draft law was also opposed for its treatment of separation, as officials said the it treats the matter no differently than divorce, but that separations must be recognized as a pre-divorce stage and should be dealt with by the couples personally.

Deputy Pham Tri Thuc from the northern province of Thanh Hoa said it is pointless to include the issue as the draft law does not offer legal or ethic solutions regarding it.

As the draft law suggests bringing cases of separation to court, deputy Huynh Ngoc Anh from Ho Chi Minh City said it would cause unnecessary harm to such couples' children.

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