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250 cyclists ride in second Viet Pride rally

250 cyclists ride in second Viet Pride rally

Organizers of the second annual Viet Pride LGBT pride festival say this year’s Viet Pride bicycle rally was twice as big as last year’s event.

Around 250 people gathered at Hanoi’s Giang Vo Lake to ride to Dien Bien Phu Street, passing the Ho Chi Min Mausoleum and Vietnam’s House of Parliament to terminate in Lenin Park.

Riders wore white t-shits with the slogan ‘Love = Human Right’ over a rainbow graphic and were lead by a team sporting rainbow flags.

Following the rally, riders gathered at Hanoi’s Goethe Institute for a closing party hosted by the Dutch Embassy.

Organizers said it had been suggested that the event be held in a different city each year but they thought the best option was to have more involvement from LGBTs from different parts of the country.

‘One topic of recent discussion is whether Viet Pride should be centralized in Hanoi or dispersed across various provinces and cities,’ organizers said in a statement.

‘Taking into account the history of Pride and the context of Vietnam, finding a middle ground appears the best option. Pride should be centralized in Hanoi to represent LGBT people throughout Vietnam and to connect with the global LGBT movement as One Viet Pride. This must rely heavily on the involvement of representatives from various regions of the country, thus ensuring inclusiveness and equal representation.’

Organizers said that the success of 2013’s event was built on the back of more inclusive leadership.

‘In 2012, local NGOs were the chief organizers and administrators of funding,’ organizers said.

‘In contrast, the leaders of Viet Pride 2013 were independent LGBT people and allies, with support from the public, corporate sectors and foreign embassies. Thus, the earlier pattern of bilateral support has become multilateral. This shift signifies a more effective, more sustainable empowerment and mobilization of the LGBT community.’

Organizers are already planning next year’s event which will focus on LGBT issues around access to employment and education and the depiction of LGBTs in the media.

‘While we are looking forward to the bill on same-sex marriage, there is much to be done to combat the social stigma around sexual minorities,’ said Viet Pride director Nguyen Thanh Tam.

‘Tradition and culture are being used to deny or violate gay people’s right to love. Yet whether gay or straight, everyone is born free and equal.

‘This means that LGBT must not be seen as a subculture or discriminated against at work, in school, or at home. Viet Pride will stay at the forefront until it becomes a festival celebrating the diversity of life and embracing human rights for all people – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity’

Vietnamese lawmakers are considering whether to legalize same-sex marriage in the South East Asian nation and a bill to that end is supported by both the Health and Justice ministries.