Vietnam Pride in Hanoi

Vietnam Pride in Hanoi (Pic: Vietpride)

Vietnam has been urged to take a bold step by granting same-sex couples the right to get married.

The country’s National Assembly is currently in session to discuss amendments to Vietnam’s constitution and other issues and this is an opportunity to afford marriage equality to gays and lesbians, says Human Rights Watch.

According to reports in the Vietnamese media, several government, ministerial and other agencies support the right to same-sex marriage.

The government recently revoked a law that made organising a same-sex marriage ceremony a fineable offence. A proposed government amendment to the 2000 Law on Marriage and the Family now before the National Assembly furthers this by removing provisions outlawing same-sex marriage.

However, the suggested changes fall short of legalising such partnerships, making it unclear whether LGBT couples will be able to register their marriages with the authorities.

“Vietnam is advancing rights for same-sex couples, but still needs to take the final step to guarantee marriage equality for all,” said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch Asia director.

“Ambiguous laws can stigmatise LGBT relationships. Officials should have the courage to establish marriage equality in Vietnamese law.”

Vietnam’s Marriage and Family Law should be reformulated to remove all such ambiguities and otherwise to prohibit all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, or gender identity, Human Rights Watch said.

If the law is not clarified it could undermine the right of same-sex couples to equality under other laws and administrative regulations affecting everyday life in Vietnamese society, and thus in their dealings with the courts and government officials.

In 2012, the country’s minister of justice announced that the government had started consultations on the issue of legalising same sex marriage.

If Vietnam, which has a vibrant gay and lesbian community, approves marriage equality, it would become the first Asian and the first communist country to legalise same-sex marriage.

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