They waved rainbow flags and carried banners. As bikers rode the streets of central Hanoi, they made their presence felt in hopes of gaining respect, but most importantly, diminishing prejudice and discrimination against Vietnam’LGBTI in a county focused on traditional family values.
Participants wanted to show their country that they are proud of who they are, and as a result hope to gain pride and support from society. 17-year-old Vu Ngoc Anh told the AFP that their overall hope is for people to “understand more about the LGBT community” and in doing so they will be able to realize that homosexuality is nothing to be ashamed of.
There still may be a long way to go in Vietnam, but there is a perception that attitudes are changing in the country.
Several film screenings and talk shows on sexual diversity were held in Hanoi to raise awareness and foster acceptance of alternative sexuality.
Viet Pride 2013 invited prominent artists supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) culture, including Maika Elan, who won the 2012 World Press Photo contest with a series of photos of homosexual couples, Nguyen Ngoc Thach, who has written several LGBT books, and Huynh Nguyen Dang Khoa, who produced, directed, and played the lead role as himself in sitcom My Best Gay Friends.
The three-day program from August 2 ,was the Vietnamese version of the Gay Pride March, which has become a worldwide event since beginning in New York, the US, in 1969.
It was first organized last year by the Center for Studied and Applied Sciences in Gender, Family, Women and Adolescents and other independent agencies.
This year’s event had the slogan “Strive with Pride,” amd opened with a screening of The Truth About Jane, a 2000 US television drama about a lesbian girl
Authorities in the country are considering lifting a ban that currently prohibits same-sex unions. It is considered a big step because the next step would be eventually legalizing gay marriage.
According to Nguyen Viet Tien, deputy minister of health, “in terms of human rights, people of the same sex have the rights to live..to love and pursue happiness.”
In Vietnam, public and political opinion are starting to sway in a more supportive fashion. Just the fact that the National Assembly is even debating the law on marriage and family, a debate scheduled to take place later in 2013, is a major stop. If the country does move to legalize gay unions, it would be the first country in Asia where gay couples will have civil unions recognized.
In the meantime, activists will continue showing their country that the LGBT community in Vietnam does have a voice and will continue to be visible both in recognition and in pride.
Well done! Hugs, Paula