Vietnam Hub

Owner of 'Attitude' Vietnam Arrested In Connection With Internet Gambling Operation

2z8vmmbIn addition to owning the Vietnamese edition of Attitude magazine, To Cong Hung is alleged to have run the website operations for, a multimillion-dollar gambling site based in Vietnam.

Police authorities in Ho Chi Minh City arrested 10 people including Hung last week in a crackdown of the website’s illegal activity.

According to’s records, the site handled almost 1 trillion Vietnamese dollars (about $47 million USD) worth of transactions last year connecting to sports-based betting.

On Gay Rights, Vietnam is Now More Progressive Than Much of the U.S.


The communist government just reversed its ban on same-sex marriage.

Map_vietnamBANGKOK — US politicians of all stripes are fond of condemning Vietnam’s poor human rights record. As one US Senator from Arkansas puts it, America has a “moral obligation" to stand up to oppression” in the communist nation.

But when it comes to gay rights, conservative US states like Arkansas are actually lagging behind Hanoi.

Vietnam’s communist party abolished a ban on same-sex marriage last week. Unlike states such as Texas — where vindictive politicians want to stop paying any official who certifies a gay wedding — Vietnam’s political class has responded with a collective shrug.

Make no mistake: Vietnam is an authoritarian state. Dissent is criminalized. Critics who blog or protest against the government end up in prison. Human Rights Watch, which points to a “human rights crisis” in Vietnam, has catalogued abuses ranging from rampant bribery to abusive police.

But as long as gay couples refrain from denouncing Vietnam’s communist party, they’re generally left alone.

Same-sex marriage still isn’t totally endorsed in Vietnam. Unlike for straight couples, whose marriages are protected by laws dictating rights to assets (and other legal perks), gay marriages aren’t fully recognized on par with traditional marriage.

Huy“But marriage is no longer banned,” says Luong The Huy (pictured), a legal expert with ISEE, a non-governmental organization formally titled the Institute for Society, Economy and Environment in Hanoi. “That’s important because anything banned in Vietnam is officially seen as harmful to society.”

“It’s not perfect,” says Nguyen Anh Tuan, the owner of Gay Hanoi Tours. “It’s not completely there but it is a great step in the right direction. ... Vietnam has always adapted and by learning we become stronger individuals, families and country. I think everyone would agree Vietnam is a quick learner.”

Still, Vietnam is hardly a gay utopia. An ISEE study suggests that roughly one-third of Vietnam’s gay population is closeted. Gay couples holding hands on the street “may get some verbal abuse but it’ll probably be behind [their] back,” Huy says.

As Tuan puts it: “Some people will clap and cheer. Others will, I’m sure, shout and spit.”

Comparing the road toward same-sex marriage in Vietnam and the US is tricky, Huy says, because “we have a totally different system and context.” Vietnam — unlike much of the United States, or many of its Asian neighbors — isn’t under the sway of a religious doctrine casting gay couples as deviant.

In Aceh, the most orthodox corner of Muslim-majority Indonesia, gay sex is punishable by 100 lashes by a man in dark robes. The Philippines, a bastion of Catholicism and a former US colony, is mired in an America-style debate over same-sex marriage.

But Vietnam is an atheist state with few religious hang-ups. Gays in Vietnam are more likely to fear condemnation from mom, not God, according to Hoang Van Chuyen, operator of the gay-friendly service Rainbow Tourism Vietnam. “Almost all parents would like their sons or daughters to get married and have babies,” he says. This family pressure, he says, forces many gay Vietnamese to “live two lives” and conceal their romantic interests for fear of disappointing family.

Fully legalized gay marriage, with all of the benefits enjoyed by straight couples, may be in store for Vietnam in the near future. During official deliberations on same-sex marriage, Huy says, Vietnam’s officials were prepared to offer full benefits to gay couples.

But they retreated, he says, and decided to merely repeal the gay marriage ban in the eleventh hour. “The lawmakers,” he says, “are saying our society just needs a little more time to accept gay marriage.”

Vietnam Relaxes Its Stance On Gay Marriage

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This past December Ted Osius (pictured below) became the first openly gay U.S. ambassador of Vietnam. Less than a month into his tenure, the Vietnamese government has now repealed its ban on same sex marriage.

The decision comes not because of any U.S. diplomacy, but rather after the Vietnamese government moved to relax its some of its longstanding policies that prohibited the unions. The decision is thought to be a strategic move to improve the country’s image and encourage the LGBT tourism industry.

“They say the society in Vietnam needs some time to accept gay and lesbians in general,” Luong The Huy, a legal representative with the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy, and Environment, explained to the Bangkok Post. “The revision in the law signals to the country that “same-sex marriage is not harmful to society.”

The country has not legalized gay marriage and will not afford gay couples with the same legal rights as straight married people, however. Instead it will no longer charge same-sex couples with fines should they decide to tie the knot. Officially Vietnam did away with its laws requiring gay couples to be slapped with fines in 2013, but its new announcement more strongly reaffirms the nation’s evolving stance on gays.

Ted Osius, First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador in East Asia, Sworn In: VIDEO


Yesterday, Ted Osius III was sworn in by Secretary of State John Kerry as the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. Osius is the first openly gay U.S. ambasaddor to serve in East Asia.

Said Secretary Kerry at the swearing-in ceremony:

When Ted first joined the Foreign Service, being open about who you love was grounds for having your security clearance yanked. Today, the LGBT community is embraced by the Foreign Service and well beyond. And we issue family visas for same-sex couples, and with the help of Pat Kennedy, OPM has removed exclusionary language from health insurance plans regarding gender transitions.

Folks, that’s part of the message we want to send to the world: example, leading by example, that we point to our flaws – and we just did so yesterday in a pretty bold way – but we do so understanding that’s the way you make things better in the long run, and that every day we are redefining the meaning of our great American experiment.

Watch the ceremony here. You can also check out a video message Osius sent to the people of Vietnam shortly before his confirmation, AFTER THE JUMP...

HRC's Legislative Counsel Remington Gregg adds:

Osius2Osius becomes the seventh openly LGBT individual to be confirmed as an ambassador during the Obama Administration.  With more than 90 million citizens, Vietnam is the world’s 13th most populous country.

Osius is a former career diplomat who has served in Indonesia, India, Thailand, the Vatican, Philippines, and Vietnam, and was a senior advisor for international affairs during the Clinton Administration.  Osius is married and has one son.

Currently, Vietnam does not recognizes same-sex marriage even though the Vietnamese health minister recommended legalization, citing research which shows that stigmatization faced by LGBT people can have serious health consequences. 

[bottom photo via Facebook]

Continue reading "Ted Osius, First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador in East Asia, Sworn In: VIDEO" »

Senate Confirms Openly Gay Foreign Service Officer as Vietnam Ambassador

Pursuit-Ted Osius_SLQTTed Osius — an openly gay Foreign Service officer — is set to become the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam.

While the appointment was confirmed on Monday by a voice vote in the Senate, President Obama first made the nomination all the way back in May of this year.

The Washington Blade reports that as an ambassador, Osius plans to direct his attention to areas of "security, nonproliferation, and law enforcement" in the U.S.-Vietnam relationship.

His experience thus far has been centered mostly around Asia — with the Foreign Service, he has worked in countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and India. He's also served as an associate professor at the National War College and as a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Osius is the seventh openly gay person nominated by Obama to serve as a U.S. ambassador.

Four other ambassadors were confirmed with him at the voice vote Monday.

Hundreds March In Third Vietnam Pride Parade - VIDEO

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Around 300 people took part in the third Gay Pride parade in Vietnam last Sunday, reports Australia News Network.

Demonstrations of any kind are tightly controlled in Vietnam, especially following riots in May in protest at China's placement of an oil rig in the South China Sea.

Although homosexuality remains taboo in Vietnam, there have signs of increasing tolerance of LGBT people in recent years including the removal of fines for same-sex wedding parties.  In 2012, the country briefly considered introducing same-sex marriage.

However, one of the parade organisers, Nguyen Trong Dung, said that LGBT people need to be "accepted by their families" before an end to wider prejudice is conceivable.

Check out a promotional video for VietPride 2014, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Hundreds March In Third Vietnam Pride Parade - VIDEO" »


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