Vietnam’s government has been considering whether to legalise same-sex marriage or allow same-sex couples to legally cohabit since last year. Officials last week announced plans to end fines for same-sex couples who "marry".

Now the country’s Deputy Health Minister, Nguyen Viet Tien, has said that same-sex marriage should be permitted, as part of a review of the country’s Law on Marriage and Family, which currently prohibits marriage between same-sex couples.

He cited research by Vietnam’s Institute of Social, Economic and Environment Research that found 90% of 1,800 LGBT people polled had experienced homophobic and transphobic attitudes in society, while 86% said they felt unable to come out, VietnamNet reported.

A further 15% had been verbally abused by their families, 6.5% were unemployed, 4.5% had been beaten, and 4.1% had been kicked out of their homes, factors that contribute to potential physical and mental ill health, said Mr Tien.

“In the angle of human rights, homosexuals also have right to live, eat, wear, love and be loved and pursue happiness. In the angle of citizenship, they have the right to work, study, have medical examination and treatment, register birth, death, marry,” he said.

But the Hanoi People’s Committee and the Vietnam Women’s Union criticised the consultation on changing the law on same-sex marriage.

According to Tuoi Tre news, the organisations argued that such a move would be a violation of traditional Vietnamese culture.

Vietnam held its first LGBT pride parade last year on Aug 5 in Hanoi. This year’s event will include a campaign to end discrimination towards LGBT people in employment, a bicycle rally, film showings and workshops from August 2-4.

The Bangkok Post - April 17, 2013