Vietnam's marriage bill a step backward: gay-rights activists

By Minh Hung, Thanh Nien News

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Same-sex couples at a group wedding ceremony in Hanoi on May 17. Photo: Nguyen Tuan Same-sex couples at a group wedding ceremony in Hanoi on May 17. Photo: Nguyen Tuan
A draft amendment to the Marriage and Family Law has failed to protect the rights of homosexuals and bisexuals in Vietnam, the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE) said Wednesday.
“The bill continues to discriminate against homosexuals and does not protect the children of same-sex couples,” the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual) rights advocate said in a statement.
During the May 27 session of the National Assembly – Vietnam’s parliament – the Social Affairs Committee proposed removing a ban on same-sex marriage but at the same time stating that Vietnam "does not recognize marriages between people of the same sex.”
An earlier version of the draft, which was introduced to lawmakers last October, proposed that the government grant same-sex couples the right to shared assets. 
However, in the final draft introduced to lawmakers on May 27, that proposal was removed.
Sixteen nations and parts of Mexico and the US have laws recognizing same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships. 
Most of these are in Europe and South America. Polls conducted in various countries show that there is rising support for same-sex marriage across race, ethnicity, age, religion, political affiliation, and socioeconomic status.
iSEE said the LGBT community in Vietnam expected major changes as there is rising support for same sex marriage.
“But with the removal of a proposal to grant same-sex couple the right to share assets, the draft has abandoned [the rights] of millions of homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders. They continue to face discrimination and abuse,” the organization said.
Vietnam, which has a population of 90 million, has an estimated 1.65 million LGBT people.
According to a recent iSEE survey, up to 57 percent of respondents said they support the rights of same-sex couples to have children and 51 percent supported their rights to legally share assets.
“The new draft amendment disregards recommendations from the United Nations. It also disappointed the international community who has come to expect Vietnam to be at the forefront of protecting the rights of LGBT,” iSEE said.
The organization urged lawmakers to stipulate rights over the shared property and children of same-sex couples.
“The society, international community and millions of Vietnamese LGBT citizens expect the recognition of these rights. And that recognition falls in line with Vietnam's stated commitment not to discriminate against any group when making a law.”

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