No reason to put off legalization of same-sex marriage: Vietnam health ministry

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The Ministry of Health is set to propose that same-sex marriage be made legal immediately, arguing it is a basic human right to "live with what one actually has".

The proposal is included in the speech that Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Viet Tien will deliver at a meeting in Hanoi on Tuesday on the ministry's behalf to review 13 years of implementing the Marriage and Family Law, according to the Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper.

The speech mentions that as human beings, homosexuals have the same rights as everyone else to live, eat, love and be loved.

As citizens, they have the right to work, study, receive healthcare, register births and deaths, marry and discharge their duties to the state and the society, it says.

The 2000 Marriage and Family Law bans marriage between the people of the same sex.

According to a recent study by the Hanoi-based nonprofit Institute for Studies of Society, Economic and Environment (iSEE), up to 90 percent of homosexuals suffer from discrimination and 86 percent of them hide their sexual orientation.

In July last year, the Ministry of Justice began discussing the legalization of same-sex marriages. Though no concrete measures have been taken so far, the Ministry of Justice started gathering public opinion on this issue while considering amendments to prevailing marriage laws.

The results of that poll are not yet public but according to a study released last December by the iSEE, support for same-sex marriages was quite low at 37 percent, while 58 percent opposed it.

Tien's speech says there is a real demand for legalizing same-sex marriage and it should be done without waiting for any survey, study or further consideration.

Vietnam has recently scrapped regulations that fine same-sex couples who marry in what activists say is yet another move towards guaranteeing the rights of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community.

Meanwhile, support for the LGBT movement in the country has shown no sign of simmering down.

In early this month, Vietnam's first-ever gay sitcom "My best gay friends" made by a 21-year-old student  went viral online as the first episode of the series debuted to rave reviews on YouTube. It has garnered more than one million views so far.

Vietnam held its first public gay pride parade August 5, 2012 in Hanoi. The country's first publicized gay wedding went viral online in 2010. Many ceremonies of gay and lesbian couples have also grabbed headlines.

While same-sex marriages are outlawed in Asia, they are legal in 11 countries on four continents and in parts of Brazil, Mexico, and the US. By legalizing same-sex marriages, Vietnam could become the first country in Asia to do so

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