Vietnam Considers Same-Sex Marriage

Vietnam's government is considering legalizing same-sex marriage, a move that is shocking everyone, the AP reports:

VietnamEven longtime gay-rights activists are stunned by the Justice Ministry's proposal to include same-sex couples in its overhaul of the country's marriage law. No one knows what form it will take or whether it will survive long enough to be debated before the National Assembly next year, but supporters say the fact that it's even being considered is a victory in a region where simply being gay can result in jail sentences or whippings with a rattan cane.

Map_vietnamMuch of it seems to be a public perception issue driven by the media:

Vietnam seems an unlikely champion of gay-rights issues. It is routinely lambasted by the international community over its dismal human rights record, often locking up political dissidents who call for democracy or religious freedom. Up until just a few years ago, homosexuality was labeled as a "social evil" alongside drug addiction and prostitution.

And Vietnam's gay community itself was once so underground that few groups or meeting places existed. It was taboo to even talk about the issue.

But over the past five years, that's slowly started to change. Vietnam's state-run media, unable to write about politically sensitive topics or openly criticize the one-party government, have embraced the chance to explore gay issues. They have run lengthy newspaper stories and television broadcasts, including one live special that won a top award.

Vietnam would be the first Asian country with marriage equality if it goes through, but several steps remain before that happens:

The Justice Ministry will consider opinions from the public along with government agencies before submitting its draft proposal to the National Assembly next May on whether to recommend same-sex marriage or some other type of legal recognition with rights. Then, it must be approved by a majority of parliament.


  1. charlie maguro says

    “in a region where simply being gay can result in jail sentences or whippings with a rattan cane.”

    Only in countries that don’t have a Buddhist history. Vietnam is nominally Buddhist.

  2. brian says

    ^ Yeah, and nearby Thailand–which is in “the region”–is incredibly friendly to gay people.

  3. Brian (different one) says

    That’s a pretty melodramatic way to portray gay rights anywhere in the region. It’s only illegal in Singapore and Malaysia, and Singapore never enforces the law, which they inherited from the UK. Even in Malaysia I would doubt if anyone has gone to prison. They do arrest people in raids of gay saunas etc but almost always let them go with a warning, especially if they’re not muslim.

    Anyway, would be good to have one country pass gay marriage. Bills have been introduced in Taiwan, Thailand, Nepal and Cambodia (and maybe Philippines) but they never go anywhere, just die a quiet death. Hope that’s not the fate of Vietnam’s effort.

  4. jeremy says

    No, I don’t see the possibility of this in at least 7 years. Most of these conducts were done through internet, with people are in a higher-education level, who majority are quite sympathetic toward gays. But that maybe just 30%. The rest still sees being gay means sickness or shame. The identity of LGBT in Vietnam has been more visible and received more support from society but in a Confucius country like Vietnam where children are obliged to get married and produce grandchildren, I really don’t think it will happen anytime soon.

  5. Mark says

    I think Vietnam sees and hears about all the possible revenue from gay marriage and wants a cut of it….

  6. jamal49 says

    You may be right, Jeremy, but it is still amazing that such a thing is being considered. If it were to become a reality, it would be ironic, everything considered. Cuba also is considering such an action, which would even be MORE ironic, all things considered. What it does show is that the humanity of LGBT people are being recognized in many countries the world over. Those with a cultural-religious foundation in the Abrahamaic faiths (judaism, islam, christianity) do we see resistance growing to recognition of the human rights of LGBT people.

  7. Blake says

    How embarrassing would it be if Vietnam reached equal rights before the USA, but then again, it is embarrassing that there are already eleven country that have equal rights, while the USA does not.

  8. Ezam says

    Some East-Asian country had to do it. China is full of gay-hating commies. South Korea is full of gay-hating fundies. Japan is full of gay-hating old people. And let’s no get started on North Korea.

  9. Paul R says

    I have nothing to add. I’ve been to all of South and Southeat Asia and the reqions–within and across countries—are in no way homogeneous on this issue.

  10. Tomme says

    “Japan is full of gay-hating old people.”

    …who also secretly engage in gay orgies.

  11. XIAO YU says


  12. Charles says

    Vietnam is not the same as nearby Muslim Malaysia and Indonesia where gay people can get whipped by rattan cane.