Updated : 08/06/2012 11:14 GMT + 7
Last week a surprising news story was reported: Vietnam’s Ministry of Justice publicly discussed the legalization of same-sex marriage. Although the possibility of the legalization is remote, supporters of gay marriage worldwide are stunned. This country has a very long way to go in any number of social issues, and is still conservative, so the fact that same-sex marriage could suddenly become legal is amazing.
Gay marriage, and homosexuality in general, have become hot-button issues around the world, with the argument over it taking various forms in different countries. For example, in Uganda, a bill passed three years ago allows homosexuals to be jailed for life or even executed. In many Islamic countries gay people also face potentially violent treatment from either their government or fellow citizens. In the US, weirdly, the argument has recently centered around a mediocre fast-food chain that specializes in chicken sandwiches.
Just a few years ago Vietnam was on the wrong side of the gay marriage debate. Homosexuality was considered a ‘social evil’. LBGT rights were nonexistent, and the issue was largely taboo. Now, if gay marriage is legalized, Vietnam will stand at the forefront of global homosexual rights.
Of course, just because something is legalized by the government doesn’t mean every person in the country will accept it. How legalization of same-sex marriage would be received by the Vietnamese people is unknown. If the gay pride parade that was held in Hanoi over the weekend is any indication, it seems that younger generations will fully support it. However, older Vietnamese generations are very conservative and don’t even like letting their children stay out past 10pm. There will probably be more resistance from them.
Still, the fact that the legalization of gay marriage has been discussed by the justice ministry is still a stunning step forward for the country. Though I do have to wonder where this came from, as it appeared out of nowhere. If the proposal makes its way through whatever levels of government it needs to and is eventually approved, Vietnam will take on a whole new light in the international community, and be one step ahead of much more liberal countries, like the US, at least on the issue of gay rights. Let’s hope it happens.