The Institute for Studies of Society, Economy, and Environment (iSEE), in collaboration with Vietnam-based LGBT+ rights group ICS Center, re-launched the LGBTI+ campaign Toi Dong Y (I Do) 2022 in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday in the hope of garnering social support for same-sex marriage in Vietnam.
Under the theme Hon nhan khong khuon mau (Marriage without model), the campaign will host activities from August to September with the aim of boosting public support for same-sex marriage in Vietnam.
The first iteration of the campaign was held in 2013 and was considered a resounding success, culminating in the abolishment of Vietnam’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2014 – a landmark event owed, in part, to a 12,000-signature petition submitted by Toi Dong Y to Vietnam’s National Assembly.
Vietnam neither prohibits nor recognizes same-sex marriage now.
In addition to hosting discussions at ten universities across the country about gender equality, publishing the first book about same-sex marriage in Vietnam, and publishing research on the positive economic and societal effects of legalizing same-sex marriage, this year’s campaign aims to gather 250,000 signatures in support of same-sex marriage through the toidongy.vn website.
Though same-sex marriages generally receive a great deal of attention and support from the community, homosexual couples continue to face many barriers given that their matrimony is not awarded the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual wedlock.
|A representative of 'Toi Dong Y' 2022 signs the event banner at the campaign’s opening in Ho Chi Minh City on August 10, 2022. Photo: Vu Thuy / Tuoi Tre News|
Longstanding cultural norms and assumptions of what constitutes a ‘legitimate family’ do give way to prejudice and discrimination.
Speaking at an event hosted by Toi Dong Y, Nguyen Lang Mong, team leader of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), addressed the pressure placed on parents of homosexual children to ensure their happiness.
“The process of parents recognizing their child as a member of the LGBTI+ community is arduous and stressful,” Mong said.
“There are families that take as long as ten years to embrace their child’s [sexual orientation], and some never accept their child's sexuality.
“When an LGBTI+ child brings a partner home to meet their parents, the pressure on the parents increases due to concerns about the child's happiness and the acceptance of their sexual orientation by other relatives.”
|Luong The Huy (left), director of iSEE Institute, and Ngo Le Phuong Linh (right), director of ICS Center, deliver a speech at the opening of 'Toi Dong Y' 2022 in Ho Chi Minh City on August 10, 2022. Photo: Vu Thuy / Tuoi Tre News|
Mong also pointed out that fully legalizing same-sex marriage will likely lead to a more tolerant view of LGBTI+ individuals and, therefore, more widespread acceptance by their families.
Minh and Hoang, a same-sex married couple who have been living together for over ten years, shared that being unable to make an important life decision for each other due to legal restrictions is a constant source of anxiety.
“If my spouse needs surgery and the doctor asks a relative to sign a medical power of attorney, then I have no rights,” Minh said.
According to Ngo Le Phuong Linh, a representative of Toi Dong Y, homosexual spouses will continue to face numerous obstacles as long as their rights differ from those awarded to heterosexual spouses.
Linh stated that these obstacles relate to legal procedures, civil status documents, real estate ownership, shared property, and legal representation for lovers and spouses.
|Vietnamese celebrities representing 'Toi Dong Y' 2022 deliver a speech at the campaign’s opening in Ho Chi Minh City, on August 10, 2022. Photo: Vu Thuy / Tuoi Tre News|
For many members of the LGBTI+ community, the opportunity to marry their lifelong partner was once an inconceivable fantasy.
The 2014 Marriage and Family Law was a significant milestone when, for the first time, positive signals were sent to the LGBTI+ community in Vietnam.
However, to reach the true goal of equality, the LGBTI+ community needs the backing of the entire society.
“There is no foundation for declaring that the model family must consist of one man, one woman, and children,” said Nguyen Thi Minh, a participant in the 'Toi Dong Y' 2022 campaign.
“This model is oppressive.
"Numerous nations, including France and the United States, have already accepted same-sex marriage.”