Vietnam has passed a landmark law legally recognizing transgender people and lifting a ban on gender reassignment surgery.
More than 80% of lawmakers Tuesday (24 November) voted in favor of the law change, which will come into effect on 17 January 2017.
Under the new legislation, those who have undergone gender reassignment surgery can change their gender marker and will be given the ‘personal rights in accordance with their new sex,’ the state-controlled VnExpress website reported.
The National Assembly said the law was an attempt to ‘meet the demands of a part of society… in accordance with international practice, without countering the nation’s traditions.’
There are an estimated 270,000 transgender people in the communist country, many of whom travel to nearby Thailand for operations.
‘According to a survey in 2014, four in every five transgender people in Vietnam desire to have [sex reassignment surgery]. Of these 11% had undergone the surgery, mostly made outside of Vietnam,’ said Luong Minh Ngoc, director of Institute for Studies on Society, Economy and Environment.
‘Transgender person can now perform sex change with affordability and safety in Vietnam. It is also an important step forward in recognizing the existence and equality of transgender people to live as themselves.’
Homosexuality and gender dysphoria are still taboo in the Vietnam but in recent years the country has become leader in LGBTI rights in the region.
A ban on gay marriage was lifted earlier this year but same-sex unions remain unrecognized by the law.