Changing hearts and minds – the journey toward Marriage Equality of Vietnam

By June 18, 2021 Advocacy, Policies, Regional

Event: Announcing the Letter to National Assembly on legalising same sex marriage (2013)

Ngo Le Phuong Linh (she/her)
ICS Center 

“Changing hearts and minds is never an easy task, and we need support from all allies, either financially, technically or by raising your voice alongside us.”

Ngo Le Phuong Linh, Director, ICS

In the last 10 years, the LGBT movement in Viet Nam has taken positive steps forward and celebrated tremendous achievements, such as removing the ban on same-sex marriage, consulting on amending the Civil Code to allow transgender persons to legally change their gender, and providing a space for civil society, including NGOs,  LGBT groups and mass media, to discuss issues relating to LGBT rights, educate the public and advocate for policy and law reform.

“I think whether we’re going to recognize same sex marriage or not, we must not create social bias toward the community and LGBT individuals. At the same time, the State should also provide a legal mechanism to protect legitimate personal, property and children-related interests of same sex couples living together”

Mr. Ha Hung Cuong, minister of Justice, 2007-2016

2013 was a milestone for local activism – the first public campaign advocating for Marriage Equality in Viet Nam was organized by the Institute for Studies of Society, Economics and Environment (iSEE), the ICS Center (ICS) and the Group for a Positive Image of LGBT (6+). Right after that, the National Assembly passed the Law on Marriage & Family (2014) removing the ban on same-sex marriage.  This revision has started a positive change in social attitude toward LGBT community. In the next 6 years, many same sex couples openly celebrated wedding ceremony, some even made the news and received public support.

However, the fact that decision makers have removed the ban but failed to recognize the rights of same sex couples in the law, left a huge gap in the lives of LGBT people and put a large portion of people in the community at risk, including gay, lesbian and transgender people in a same-sex relationship. Their rights to inheritance or adoption are also not recognized as a consequence.

Since 2019, the Marriage Equality Working Group, established by ICS and iSEE, with the participations of LGBT leaders from community groups and provinces, is working on the “I Do” campaign alongside with the legislative process, with the goal to achieve the right to marry for same sex couples in the next revision of the Marriage and Family law. One of the main strategies of the campaign is to engage and raise the supportive voice of the general public and other stakeholders in society, including business and education sectors, using social advocacy and social pressure to push for legal change.

“I Do” came in the PrideBus event during VietPride 2020 in HCMc.

Changing hearts and minds is never an easy task, and we need support from all allies, either financially, technically or by raising your voice alongside us. We believe that as Asian neighbours, success to achieve marriage equality in any country will be a stepping stone for all of us.

About our contributor

Ngo Le Phuong Linh (she/her) started to serve as ICS Center’s Director since 2019. Despite having different background which is a Hospitality management degree, she pursued her passion for non-profit and human right activism at a very young age. Since 2015, started as a volunteer and then fulltime staff of ICS, she has involved as leading roles in many topics such as: organizing VietPride – the biggest annual LGBT event in HCM city, or leading Work with Pride – the first initiative of that increase the engagement of business sector and promotes workplace equality and inclusion for LGBTI in Vietnam, which also includes Labor Code advocacy to have better protection for LGBTI employees. On international level, Linh is an alumni of YSEALI Academic Fellows Program on Social Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, and is also serving as the youngest Executive Board member represents South East Asia in International Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA). Two of her personal and also professional goals are to work with partners to achieve marriage equality in Vietnam, and to raise the voice of lesbian and bisexual women in the traditional gender equality agenda.

Stories of Marriage Equality Movement in the Region

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