Vietnam culture ministry scraps ban on models taking nude photos

A controversial ruling effective since May, banning models and beauty queens in Vietnam from taking nude photos, will be nullified next year

'Hoang Hon Do’ by Thai Phien, a Vietnamese photographer

A controversial ruling effective since May, banning models and beauty queens in Vietnam from taking nude photos, will be nullified next year, according a recent circular by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

According to the circular, issued on October 19 by Minister Nguyen Ngoc Thien, models, beauty queens, and those working in the fashion and performing arts industries will no longer be restricted by an earlier fiat that forbade them from taking and disseminating nude photos.

The ministry’s previous circular, promulgated on March 24, prohibited contestants who have won titles in beauty and modeling contests from taking pictures or filming individual images without costumes, or with offensive costumes, and from accidentally or deliberately releasing them to the public.

The ban has been effective since May 15, sparking heated debate among the country’s models and legal experts alike, who said regulations on the industry were necessary but condemned a blanket ban on taking nude photos without giving a specific definition on which nude photos are ‘offensive’ and which ones are works of art.

Many opponents of the ban, most of whom are photographers, models, beauty queens and lawyers, considered the ban a violation of human rights.

The new circular, which seeks to scrap the controversial ban, will take effect from January 1, 2017.

“I think it’s a civilized decision,” Miss Ethnic Vietnam 2013 Nguyen Thi Loan responded to the lifting of the ban. “I would personally be willing to take part in nude photo projects for a good cause should the occasion arise.”

Loan said the ban never affected her career as she had never been a nude model before, but stressed that in many parts of the world nude photos are considered works of art and used in meaningful social campaigns with the participation of public figures to draw attention.

Nude photographer Thai Phien welcomed the lift of the ban as a foregone conclusion, as he believed nothing can stop the natural flow of the arts.

“[My models] convince me to take nude photos of them so that they can capture their body at its most youthful age,” Phien said.

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