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Vietnam to hold first gay pride in Hanoi

Viet Pride hopes to fight homophobia in the south-east Asian country with film screenings, music and a bicycle parade through capital
Viet Pride to be held in Hanoi

Vietnam will hold its first ever gay pride event in the capital Hanoi next week, as the country discusses legalizing same-sex marriage.

Viet Pride will run from 3 to 5 August and feature film screenings, presentations and live music, culminating with a cycle parade through the city center on the Sunday.

Although not illegal, being gay in Vietnam is still taboo and openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are widely discriminated against.

According to pride organizers, gay men and women are commonly referred to as Pê đê, meaning pedophile, with homosexuality considered a mental illness by many.

In some cases conversion therapies are used, including corrective rape, and the stigma can lead to suicide.

On why Viet Pride is important and needed, organizers wrote on its website: 'The untold miseries must be told. The invisible faces must be made visible. The silenced voice must be heard. Equal rights must be given.

'All these goals cannot be accomplished overnight but require an undivided commitment, concerted effort and collective action to make human rights and dignity for LGBT people a reality.

'For this reason, pride has been celebrated annually since 1969 in all continents of the world to remind each and every one of us that we are born free and equal and it is not a crime or a sin to love the person we love.'

The Ministry of Justice announced last month (June 2012) that it is carrying out a consultation into same-sex marriage and would bring the issue to the one-party state’s National Assembly congress in spring 2013.

If gay marriage is legalized, the communist country will be the first Asian nation to do so.

Last Tuesday (24 July) Minister Ha Hung Cuong spoke out against homophobia, saying prejudice against gay people is 'unacceptable'.

However, he stopped short of supporting gay marriage.

Viet Pride will be held at the Goethe Institute in Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hanoi.

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