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Gay group supports fined Vietnamese couple

ICS believes it is legal for two adult men to hold a wedding party and banning it can be considered a hate crime in other countries

The largest gay rights organization in Vietnam has questioned local authorities' decision to penalize two men who legally organized their wedding party without marriage registration.

Truong Van Hen and Nguyen Hoang Bao Quoc held a large-scale wedding in Kien Giang province in southern Vietnam in mid-May. Upon learning of the news, provincial authorities called on their relatives to educate the newlyweds, who were subsequently fined a total of 200,000 dong ($9.6, €7.8) and had to flee the locality.

In a statement on Wednesday (30 May), ICS praises the men for being brave enough to overcome social discrimination to live with their true nature and highlights the legality of their decision to hold a wedding party without marriage registration.

ICS stresses loving and being loved is not the privilege of any gender.

‘The right to seek happiness is the most fundamental right of everyone,’ it writes. ‘ICS is glad because your love is supported by your families, who organized a wedding for you. This is a humane activity based on parents’ love for their children.’

While admitting same-sex marriage is contrary to the Law on Marriage and Family, ICS points out that the law does not ban two individuals of the same sex from developing relationships as long as they are voluntary, adult and unconnected with prostitution.

Every citizen has the right to do laws that are not banned by the law, ICS contends.

‘Holding a wedding party is not considered as getting married, because it is not recognized by the law. The wedding party is only a get-together so it is wrong if the authorities ban or dismiss it just because it is held by two people of the same sex.’

For ICS, the authorities’ threat to fine the couple has seriously violated the residential freedom right of citizens: ‘In other countries, this can be charged as hate crime.’

In February, two women named Nguyen Van Nhat and Nguyen Thi Nhu tried to hold a wedding in Ca Mau province in southern Vietnam. Local authorities tipped sent officials to their reception on a tip-off and later fined them for breaking the Law on Marriage and Family.

Nhat’s family had opposed the marriage but changed their mind after the pair threatened to kill themselves.

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