Activists parade for gay rights in Vietnam

TN News

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Some two hundred activists waving rainbow flags and carrying hand-painted banners biked in a colorful convoy through central Hanoi on Sunday as part of the country's second gay pride parade.

Participants said they hoped to reduce prejudice and discrimination against the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Vietnam, where Confucian social mores -- with their emphasis on tradition and family -- still dominate.

"I want society to accept us and I am proud of myself," said 17-year-old participant Vu Ngoc Anh, a high school student.

"We hope people will understand more about the LGBT community... as being a homosexual is nothing bad," Anh, who is herself a lesbian, told AFP at the parade.

Organized by Hanoi's increasingly visible LGBT community, the event went ahead peacefully.

The country's first ever gay pride parade was held a year ago.

Vietnam forbids same-sex unions but authorities are considering lifting the ban.

Gay rights have attracted high level support, with both the health and justice ministries coming out in support of lifting the ban on same-sex unions or even legalizing gay marriage.

"In terms of human rights, people of the same sex have the rights to live... to love and pursue happiness," said Nguyen Viet Tien, deputy minister of health was quoted as saying on state media in April.

The law on marriage and family is due to be debated at the National Assembly later this year and any move to legalize gay unions would make Vietnam the first country in Asia to do so.

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The move to lift the ban shows "a change in attitude of the state on the issue", civil law official Duong Dang Hue told the Dan Tri online newspaper.

Public opinion on LGBTs in Vietnam is changing "really fast", said Le Do Nga Linh, 29, a participant at the parade.

"I hope that we can get permission and have gay marriage really soon," she added.

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