Around a hundred people have taken part in Vietnam’s first pride march on Sunday morning, taking the form of a convoy of brightly decorated bicycles and motorbikes in the capital city of Hanoi.
The convoy set off from the city’s National Stadium and finished 6 miles later at a downtown park.
The parade route was changed at the last minute to avoid it clashing with anti-China demonstrations in the city that were protesting over disputed territories claimed by both countries in the South China Sea.
The pride parade went smoothly despite not having official permission to go ahead – unlike the anti-China demonstrators who were dispersed by police, with around 20 people taken to a detention center.
Protestors used the march to call for an end to discrimination against LGBTs and for the legalization of same-sex marriage following comments by the country’s Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong in July that it might be time to consider the issue.
‘This problem must be considered carefully, thoroughly in many aspects: cultural, legal, custom and ethical practices,’ said Ha Hung Cuong in an online forum.
‘The recognition or non-recognition of same sex marriage should be based on very basic research – the credible assessment of impact on many social and legal aspects such as personal freedom, compatibility with cultural and social practices of Vietnamese families, sensitivity, social consequences of the law.
‘The State should also have legal mechanisms to protect the legitimate rights such as legal personality, property ownership or children … of same sex couple living together.’
Not all the participants in the parade were LGBT with 19 year old marcher Kyle Tran telling AFP that he was there to support a family member.
‘It’s time to eliminate discrimination against people of different sexuality. I am straight, but my cousin is a lesbian,’ Tran said.
Viet Pride organizer Tam Nguyen told GSN on Wednesday that the event had been held to raise the profile of the LGBT community in Vietnam.
‘The most important thing about Pride is that you send out the message to the public that the gay community exists, because in many countries including Vietnam people still deny the existence of this community,’ Nguyen said.
‘Pride also shows those who are still in the closet that they can find the community and that they do not stand alone in this world.’