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Vietnam government consults on same-sex marriage

The government of the single-party state considers legalizing same-sex marriage for the first time
Nguyen Hoang Bao Quoc and Truong Van Hen at their ‘wedding’

Vietnam’s ministry of justice is consulting on amending the law to allow same-sex couples to marry.

The ministry of justice sent out a letter to organizations such as the supreme court, the government’s family department and Hanoi Law University asking for opinions about legalizing same-sex marriage.

The government of the single-party state discussed the issue at meetings in Hanoi in April and Ho Chi Minh City in May and are planning to discuss it further at the National Assembly congress in spring 2013.

‘It is a big step forwards already when the government officially consider same sex relation and consult for law revision,’ said Le Quang Binh Director of Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE).

Vietnam’s Marriage and Family Law (2000) currently prohibits marriage between people of the same gender.

Nguyen Hoang Bao Quoc and Truong Van Hen, a gay couple in the in the southern province of Kien Giang prompted news stories last month when they held an extravagant wedding celebration with hundreds of guests. It was eventually stopped by the police and the couple were fined 200,000 Vietnamese dong ($10, €8).

The letter from the ministry of justice said that while there are only a few countries in the world that allow same-sex marriage the gay community is ‘expanding’ in Vietnam. It recognizes that in order to protect individual freedoms, same-sex marriage should be allowed.

However the ministry of justice also recognizes that the 'culture and traditions of the Vietnamese family' and the 'social sensitivity of the issue' mean that it is ‘still too early’ for same-sex marriage. It therefore recommends that the current marriage law should be maintained.

The ministry acknowledges that ‘cohabitation of people of the same sex is real phenomenon’ and therefore legal issues like assets and children need to be addressed.

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