Vietnam’s LGBT people need safer working environment: survey

The LGBT (Lesbian – Gay – Bisexual and Transgender) community in Vietnam needs a safer working environment, a recent survey shows

U.S. Consul General Rena Bitter and ICS director Tran Khac Tung exchange a friendly hug on the stage of the “Work for Pride” workshop in Ho Chi Minh City on August 14, 2015.

The LGBT (Lesbian – Gay – Bisexual and Transgender) community in Vietnam needs a safer working environment, a recent survey shows.

Workplace is among places where LGBT people are most discriminated against, besides their family, schools, and the society, ICS, an organization that supports LGBT community's rights in Vietnam, revealed at a workshop on Friday, citing findings from its survey.

The event, titled “Work with Pride” and supported by the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, was held by ICS at the American Center in District 1.

The U.S. believes strongly in promoting a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam that promotes the rule of law and human rights, U.S. Consul General Rena Bitter said in her opening remark.

“Vietnam will reach [its] fullest potential when all its people are supported in achieving their full potential,” she said. “That is the message of pride week and the message of this workplace survey.”

The ICS survey was conducted online in May, polling nearly 200 members of the local LGBT community at work age.

Nearly half of the respondents said they do not dare to come out at workplace, Dinh Hong Hanh, an ICS representative, told the workshop, citing the poll results.

Sixty-four percent said their employers showed no sign whether they support or discriminate after learning of their coming out, whereas 76 percent said they received unchanged attitude from colleagues after telling them they are LGBT people.

Seven percent of respondents said they are discriminated by their colleagues, and five percent by their employers, according to the survey.

“These proportions might sound small to many people, but they do have negative effects on LGBT people, and may even change their working life,” Hanh said.

A number of respondents said they have never applied for a job, fearing that Vietnam’s working environment is not safe for LGBT people.

Some were even looked down on, or judged as thieves, when the employers know of their true genders.

“For LGBT people, safety means they are treated safely; looked at with safe eyes; and told safe words about them,” Hanh said.

“Through this survey, we want to send a message that a safe working environment which respects the diversity and without discrimination will bring benefit to both employers and employees.

Workers will devote themselves for companies, and those businesses will build up not only a devoted workforce, but also good image in terms of humanity.”

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Ai Linh, a member of local LGBT community, speaks at the “Work for Pride” workshop in Ho Chi Minh City on August 14, 2015. Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News

The Friday workshop was also attended by many Vietnamese and U.S. firms including Baker and McKenzie, PwC, Vinabook, Uber, and Cinerstar, which came to show their support to the community and their policy for LGBT employees.

“It’s time for us to realize that a workplace that respects the diversity is a good workplace for everyone, and a society good for LGBT people is good for everybody,” ICS director Tran Khac Tung said in concluding the event.

“Work for Pride” is part of a series of events within the framework of this year’s annual LGBT supporting festival VietPride, themed “Spread My Wings.”

The fest has been organized in 25 cities and provinces across the country from July to August with workshops, music performances, film screening, outdoor activities and parades with the participation of tens of thousands of LGBT people and their allies.

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