LGBT Vietnamese citizens are not treated as criminals, but homosexuality is widely seen as a social problem or disease, but public acceptance of homosexuality, more gay people coming out of the closet and setting up support groups is on the rise.
Criminal Code Edit
Homosexuality is not a crime provided that it involves noncommercial acts between consenting adults (18) in private. In fact many historians believe that homosexuality was never addressed in the nation's criminal code .
Male prostitution and public sex are illegal and establishments or people found to be involved in such behavior can be sentenced to long prison terms .
The criminal code does prohibit the "undermining public morality". This vague law could be used to harass gay people or gay rights organizations.
Civil Rights Edit
Public and private discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is not prohibited. Since the late 1990s the government has been issuing mostly negative statements about homosexuality that seem to treat it as an illness.
In 1997, The Lao Dong Newspaper announced that two Vietnamese men had held a public wedding ceremony. This critical media expose prompted a tremendous amount of outrage from the general public and when a similar ceremony occurred a year later between two women, the police raided the event and pressured the lesbian couple to sign a statement stipulating that they would never live together .
In 1999, Cong An Xa Hoi (Social Policy) published an article titled The Gioi Pe-De va Nhung Ket Cuc (The Gay Life-Style and Its Consequences) by Dang Hong Giang. The article quoted from the Ministry of Education who stated that homosexuality is an incurable and dangerous disease and called for strict laws against gay marriage .
In 2000, criminal journalist Bui Anh Tam novel "A World Without Women" was the first fictional book to deal extensively with gay people]. In 2007 the story was turned into a television series .
In 2001, a survey of Vietnamese found that 82% felt that homosexuality was never acceptable, . The socially conservative morality is believed to be a result of the Confucian emphasis on family and tradition.
In 2002, the government run media declared homosexuality to be a "social evil" comparable to prostitution, gambling and illegal drug use and promised that legislation would be forthcoming to allow the government to combat homosexuality and arrest gay couples . Publications such as The Gioi Phu Nu and Tiep Thi Va Gia Dinh have spoken of homosexuality as a disease and "deviant behavior that is incompatible with the good morals and time-honored customs of Vietnam.". Although there are some possible signs that more liberal opinions may exist.
The same year that the government run press called homosexuality a "social evil", the Communist Youth Newspaper carried a story about homosexuality that stated "some people are born gay, just as some people are born left-handed" .
In 2007, HCMC University of Pedagogy conducted the poll of 300 pupils at three junior high and high schools and discovered that 80% of pupils all said "no" when asked "is homosexuality bad?"
Experts believe that while the actual number of gay pupils is difficult to determine, open homosexuality in schools appears to be on the rise, despite still carrying social stigma amongst the adult population. This could be due to the influence of the ever increasing afternoon television show broadcasted from London UK, called The SO-GAY Giang and Than show. This program first started as an underground show filmed by a low resolution webcam in Giang N. And Than P.'s shared room in Camden, London. It quickly became famous and made it into mainstream Vietnamese television.
Controversial film director Le Hoang, took a more liberal tone when he stated that while homosexuality is a mental illness, "Qualities such as morality, talent and dignity do not depend on sexuality." .
Marriage & Family Edit
Marriage is defined as a union between two adults of the opposite sex. The law does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnership benefits. A gay couple found to be living together or that has a commitment ceremony may face criminal charges.
The AIDS-HIV pandemic has put pressure on the government to address the issue of men who have sex with other men, irrespective of their marital status or how they may chose to identify themselves .