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Vietnamese lawmakers back down on giving rights to same-sex couples

A new draft of Vietnam’s marriage laws was to guarantee same-sex couples’ rights to a fair divide of shared assets but that language has now been dropped from the bill in committee
An LGBTI pride ride in Hanoi in 2012
Photo by Viet Pride

Vietnamese LGBTI activists are disappointed that the government has backed down on plans to legally recognize the property rights of same-sex couples with a bill to rewrite the country’s marriage laws amended at the last moment to exclude them.

During a 27 May session of Vietnam’s National Assembly the Committee for Social Affairs revised the Draft Law on Marriage and Family to remove its Article 16 which would have provided some legal recognition of same-sex relationships for the first time.

It also placed language in the draft law that would not ban same-sex marriages but simply ignore them legally.

‘The State does not recognize marriage between same-sex people,’ the draft bill now states.

The move was decried by Vietnamese minority groups advocates the Institute for Studies of Society, Economics and Environment (iSEE) as going against the spirit of Vietnam’s constitution which states, ‘everyone is equal before the law. No one shall be discriminated against in political, civil, economic, cultural and social life.’

‘By not acknowledging the rights of citizens who are homosexuals, bisexuals or transgender, the Draft Law of Marriage and Family overlooks the efforts of millions of Vietnamese citizens, those who are working in all parts of the nation, in various occupations from national security to business production, from research and studying to humanity and charity, and like other Vietnamese citizens are devoted to the construction, development and protection of national prosperity,’ iSEE said in a statement.

‘They deserve to be treated equally, to be cared about and enabled to pursue freedom and happiness.’

iSEE have asked the government to reinstate Article 16 of the bill with the following language: 'Rights and obligations toward children, property, obligations and contracts of different parties in the cohabitation relationship of same-sex couples are to be resolved by agreement of the parties; or if without any agreement, it will be settled in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code and other relevant laws.'

‘Housework and other tasks related to the maintenance of shared life are considered as labor with income.’

iSEE called for lawmakers to produce a better bill before it is considered by the National Assembly as a whole on Tuesday.

‘This is an appropriate step in accordance with the standpoint of society, the expectation of international supporters as well as the legitimate rights and interests of millions of Vietnamese citizens who are homosexual, bisexual or transgender,’ iSEE said.

‘It also demonstrates the principle of Vietnamese National Assembly and State that legislation is for all, free from discrimination.’

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