Vietnam to exempt same-sex marriages from penalties

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A draft decree dealing with administrative violations exempts same-sex marriages from fines and increases ten-fold the fine for adultery.

The scrapping of the fine for same sex marriages, 12 years after it was introduced, was announced at a meeting of the Justice Ministry Tuesday, soon after the same decree proposed doubling the fine only to attract a flood of criticism saying it was a step back in terms of protection of gay rights.

Deputy justice minister Pham Quy Ty was quoted by Tuoi Tre as saying at the meeting that the removal of punishment does not mean an approval of same-sex marriage.

"We have abolished the fine as we think it no longer suits today's situation, not because we recognize same-sex marriage. We need further studies and polls to decide if we should recognize it," Ty said.

The draft decree, set to take effect July 1, raises the cash penalty on extramarital sexual relationships to between VND2 and 5 million (US$96-239). A similar fine will also be levied on the third party in the extramarital relationship, whether single or married.

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