Married Viet Kieu homosexuals support local brethren

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An overseas Vietnamese (Viet Kieu) homosexual couple, widely known for living a happy married life in Canada, has come out in support of their counterparts in the Mekong Delta who had their wedding ceremony stopped by local authorities.

Nguyen Thai Nguyen and Dinh Cong Khanh, who got married six years ago, said there was no justification for stopping the wedding celebrations of Truong Van Hen and Nguyen Hoang Bao Quoc.

Hen, 22, and his spouse Quoc both men had to leave their home in Kien Giang Province's Ha Tien Town soon after their Mekong Delta wedding ceremony was curtailed on May 16.

The two men have received the support of their parents, which is rare in Vietnam. With family support, they held a formal wedding ceremony just like a straight couple in their hometown in Kien Giang.

However, the wedding was stopped by local authorities who also advised the couple to return to their home in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Marriage and Family Law bans same sex marriage. However, many people have said it does not forbid homosexual people from organizing wedding parties.

"Recently, homosexual weddings have been held in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but they were not fined. Wedding ceremonies and marriage are totally different things," said Nguyen.

Nguyen and Khanh, who have been a beacon for gay couples in Vietnam, have suggested that the Marriage and Family Law is adjusted to achieve equality and protect the rights of homosexual people. They said they experience no discrimination in their lives, adding that Canada has laws protecting homosexuals which punish people for discriminating against them.

Responding to comments that gay marriages are not usually as stable as the "normal" ones, Khanh and Nguyen said they still loved each other as much as they did before they got married.

"We go to work, do the house work, cook with each other. The only difference is now the legal aspect. We have the same rights as other heterosexual couples," they said, adding that "our parents are not only confident, but are proud of our happiness."

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According to the Information Connecting and Sharing (ICS) the largest organization in the country working on homosexual issues, it will on June 23, organize a seminar on gay marriage with the participation of parents of homosexual people.

The conference aims to collect opinion of the parents about gay marriage.

Last month, the Ministry of Justice issued official dispatches to state agencies about amendments to the Marriage and Family Law , especially regarding gay marriage, which will be discussed by the National Assembly next year.

Huynh Minh Thao, Communication Manager of ICS, who is gay, said the recent plan to modify the Marriage and Family Law to protect gay people in Vietnam was a prompt action by the Government.

The homosexual community has achieved good results in efforts to improve their image in mainstream society. There are now people defending the rights of gays who have shown that they an intrinsic part of society. Parents and friends of LGBT have begun to raise their voices to protect friends and relatives, Thao said.

Thao said the gay community hopes for better results after the NA meeting next year. "If the law is realized, Vietnam will be the first country in Asia to accept gay marriage. It means human rights are ensured in the country."

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