According to Decree 110/2013/ND-CP, the current fines on homosexual weddings, which are around VND100,000-500,000 (US$24), will now be abolished.

The Decree, which was issued on September 24, 2013, aims to reduce discrimination against homosexual couples, showing the government’s acceptance of alternative lifestyles.

As previously reported, amidst opposing views on whether same-sex marriage should be legalized, a proposed amendment to the 2000 Law on Marriage and Family says that the country should neither ban nor recognize the practice.

The amendment was introduced by Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong at a meeting held by the Government on August 13 to discuss the proposed revisions to the Law before referring them to the National Assembly for approval.

The current law prohibits marriage between same-sex couples, but the amendment drafting board has proposed that same sex marriage should not be banned, but should not be recognized either, the Minister said.

Similarly, at the public consultative conference held in Hanoi on Tuesday to review the possible amendments to the law, Dr Duong Dang Hue, head of the Civil and Economic Law Department, said the solution that ‘same sex marriage should not be banned, but should not be recognized either’ is suitable for the country’s current situation.

With the same view, Dr Dinh Xuan Thao, head of the Legislation Studies Institute, said, “After considering historical customs and habits and consulting foreign countries’ similar laws related to marriage and family, we can say that Vietnam has made a remarkable move by neither banning nor recognizing same sex marriage.

Accordingly, same sex couples are not allowed to register their marriage, but they can cohabit as a couple and share a household registration book, meaning they are allowed binding relations in terms of property, children, and related rights and obligations, Thao explained.

Currently there are only 17 countries and territories that recognize same sex marriage, Thao added.

In April the Health Ministry, the Youth Study Institute, and the Institute for Prosecution Sciences under the Supreme People’s Procuracy said same-sex marriage should be allowed, since it is a human right.

The Health Ministry maintains that homosexuals, like everyone else, have the right to live, to love and to be loved, and to pursue happiness.

Meanwhile, the Hanoi People’s Committee, the Vietnam Women's Union and several other agencies believe the State should not recognize same-sex marriage, since it is against the nation’s customs and habits, and since many other countries do not recognize it.

According to statistics, Vietnam now has about 1.65 million homosexuals between the ages of 15 and 59, accounting for about 3 percent of the population.

Tuoi Tre News - October 3, 2013