Vietnam lawmakers discuss expanding LBGT rights

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Young people in Hanoi raise banners advocating LGBT rights at a parade on August 5, 2012, part of the Vietnamese version of Gay pride parades, which originated in the US.

Vietnam's legislators should have a better understanding of LGBT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transsexual) issues in order to draft relevant laws, says at least one government official.


"Many issues that involve the LGBT community are not stipulated by law. Some policies still lag behind the actual situation," Tran That, an official at the Ministry of Justice, said at a Saturday conference.


It was the second conference on LBGT issues to be held by the NGO Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE) along with the Legislative Research Institute, an affiliate of the National Assembly's Standing Committee.


There are an estimated 1.65 million LGBT people in Vietnam.


Hoang Van Tu, deputy director of the Legislative Research Institute, said the government does not have sufficient laws and regulations regarding LGBT lifestyles, while discrimination against LGBT people remains problematic.


According to That, major injustices the LGBT community faces include the inability to switch genders on their identity papers, and Vietnam's refusal to recognize same-sex marriage.


"Besides, there are many loopholes in the law. For example, LGBT people are not recognized as potential rape victims," he said.


In a 2012 survey conducted by iSEE taken by 2,401 lesbians found 92 percent of them wanted the government to legalize same-sex marriage.


Le Quang Binh, iSEE director, said the LGBT community should be protected by laws to protect their physical and mental health, as well as prevent discrimination against them in schools and medical facilities.


"Legalizing same sex marriage does not affect the rights of other groups. Actually, it protects heterosexuals," he said, pointing out that many heterosexuals end up getting married to homosexuals who feel the need to hide their true sexual orientation.

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